NHL Player Safety Cracks Down On Cale Makar

The defending Stanley Cup Champions have their hands full with the upstart Seattle Kraken in their first-round series. And now they'll have to go into a critical Game 5 without the services of defending Norris & Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cale Makar. And that's because the Kraken have to play that game without their 40-goal scorer Jared McCann.

The NHL's Department of Player Safety has suspended Makar for one game for taking McCann hard into the glass on Monday night with the puck out of play. 

"It is important to note that McCann is in no way eligible to be checked on this play," opined the Department of Player Safety. "It is clear that Makar knows McCann is not in possession of the puck when he decides to deliver this hit."

Makar was originally assessed a five-minute major, but it was reduced to a two-minute minor for interference upon further review. 

"It's unfortunate. I never want to injure guys," Makar said afterwards. "Hopefully he's all right. At the end of the day ... I didn't feel like I tried to finish him that hard."

Naturally, Kraken coach Dave Hakstol felt otherwise. "I believe the puck is being caught by a fan as Canner is being run into the end wall. Late hit. Really late. No puck in play." The Kraken went on to win the game 3-2 in overtime, but the bigger picture becomes a little more hazy. 

McCann is out for Game 5, and "maybe longer" as per Hakstol. 

Safe to say that this hard-fought series is about to get even nastier.