Silvertips forward Sean Richards was issued a five-game suspension by the Western Hockey League on Monday for a check to the head major penalty against Seattle on Friday.
After missing Saturday’s contest against Portland, the overage winger will serve four more games before being eligible to return.
Head coach Dennis Williams said he wasn’t shocked or incensed when he learned about the length of the suspension.
“I know they are setting a precedent this year and if you look at the suspensions this year, there are some pretty lengthy ones,” Williams said. ” Obviously it’s something of concern and like we’ve said before, we want to keep players safe and play the game hard, but within the realms and rules of the game. The league handed that down and that’s how we’ll have to live by.”
Richards, 19, was slapped with three similar suspensions last year. Richards is a solid presence on Everett’s top two forward lines and boasts two points (two assists) with nine penalty minutes in five games this season.
It’s the second longest suspension for any WHL player in 2017-2018. Regina’s Parker Gavlas was given six games for a check to the head major in the preseason.
There has been an increased emphasis on player safety in all levels of hockey this season. Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson was handed a 20-game suspension for a hit in the preseason last week by the NHL. On the same day Richards’ suspension was announced, Kamloops forward Jermaine Loewen was given a four-game suspension for a similar penalty by the WHL
Richards’ loss is a tough pill to swallow for the Silvertips, which already lack forward depth and have scored 1.8 goals per game this season, the second lowest in the Western Hockey League behind Prince George.
Aside from being a top six forward, Richards logs significant minutes on the power play and penalty kill.
“Everybody needs to step up,” Williams said. “It’s an opportunity not only for one guy to get more ice time, but a lot of different guys to step into different roles.”
Melcher placed on IR, heading home
Import forward Peter Melcher has been placed on injured reserve and is returning home to Slovakia on Friday for further rehab and therapy, according to Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson. His return this season is questionable.
Melcher, Everett’s first-round selection in the 2018 CHL import draft (No. 57 overall), sustained a concussion and additional neck injuries during the preseason and hasn’t seen the ice since. The 17-year-old could have been a solid source of secondary scoring, as he potted 17 goals in 15 games for his club team in Slovakia, MHC Martin U18.
Price leaves practice
17-year-old forward Jalen Price left practice after crashing against the boards while the team was practicing 5-on-5 at the Community Ice Rink. He skated gingerly off the ice after being examined by team trainer Blake Draughon and did not return.