A hockey player who left Ryan Smyth injured after blindsiding him during a senior men's hockey game last week has been issued a 16-game suspension by Hockey Alberta.
Smyth, a former Edmonton Oilers star who now plays for the Stony Plain Eagles, was injured in a game against the Lacombe Generals on March 11 during the provincial finals leading to the Allan Cup.
Smyth was coming down the left wing when he cut across across the slot and released a backhand shot, said Eagles coach Mike Tavaroli.
As the shot went into the net, player Kyle Sheen blindsided Smyth, smashing him in the face with a late elbow, Tavaroli said.
Smyth was on the ice for several minutes, Tavaroli said. He was taken to hospital after the game for tests and to make sure he hadn't suffered a skull fracture, he added.
Following the incident, Sheen said he'd being unfairly vilified and threatened. He denied targeting Smyth and said he never intended to deliver a dirty hit.
Tavaroli said Sheen was also suspended for four games last year for a hit on another opponent in the playoffs. Tavaroli says he's satisfied with the latest suspension, which would put Sheen out for the rest of the season, and possibly five to 10 games next year as well.
"It's the first time I've seen a suspension this big since I've been involved in hockey," he said. "We feel the league and Hockey Alberta did their due diligence and came up with a suspension that was fair."
Tavaroli said Smyth is continuing to recover from the hit.
"Ryan is progressing and hopefully we'll know more this week. I believe he tried skating today, but I haven't heard how that went," Tavaroli said.
"We're hopeful that we can get Ryan back in the lineup before the series is over."