Earlier this afternoon, the NHL announced that Scott Gomez will only be assessed a fine for elbowing Alexei Emelin in the face last night. The fine is $1,478.49, which is the maximum fine allowed under the Contract Bargaining Agreement given Gomez's salary. The larger point is that the fine is the extent of Gomez's punishment beyond the major penalty, game misconduct, and ejection from last night's game against Montreal. He will be available to play tonight against Our Hated Rivals.
I am surprised that Gomez did not get a suspension for even a game or two. Headshots have come under increased scrutiny in recent years. Given that it was a retaliatory action by Gomez, I thought that would command a stronger message from the league that such an action is unacceptable. Instead, Gomez just loses a little money and the Devils had to play a man short throughout the rest of last night's game on top of having to kill a five minute power play.
For the unaware, here's the elbow in question. This .GIF came from the following tweet by Marc Dumont. I found it through this Fanshot at Eyes on the Prize, posted by Andrew Berkshire.
A better look at the Gomez elbow that drew blood. pic.twitter.com/PDqzLxVFtS— Marc Dumont (@Dr_Habs) April 4, 2015
Some have alleged that the hit Emelin threw on Gomez was dirty and Gomez was just standing up for himself or sending message or whatever other justification I may have missed. I cannot agree with such justification. Even if Emelin did Gomez wrong, it doesn't excuse or make an elbow to the face acceptable.
However, I don't think the hit was even dirty. Here's a .GIF of that hit, which I found in the comments of this Reddit post about the elbow at r/hockey. Gomez and Emelin were going after the puck; Gomez was starting to lose his balance but still poked at the puck; and Emelin just hit him like he would anyone else in that situation. Yes, Gomez went hard into the endboards. Being hit hard is not illegal or immoral in hockey. It's easy to see Gomez starting to stumble in slow-motion and therefore wish Emelin held up somewhat, but in real-life speed, that's not possible. I can understand why some may wanted a boarding penalty because of how Gomez fell into the boards, but that's not an automatic penalty call from any referee. It's certainly not this awful play that required Gomez (or anyone else) to "send a message" by doing something far more unacceptable and getting himself thrown out of the game for it.
In any case, it is now all in the past. Gomez got penalized, Emelin returned to the game, the Devils persevered and still won the game without him, and Gomez just has a fine to pay. Again, Gomez is able to play tonight, which should mean a similar line up to what the team started with last night.