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NHL Making Example of Hertl? Sharks Star Talks Suspension

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Credit: Hockey Shots/Dean Tait

Tomas Hertl addressed his suspension this afternoon.

Hertl took responsibility for his retaliatory high stick in the area of Elias Lindholm’s head on Sunday night, which drew both a two-minute high sticking call in the San Jose Sharks’ 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames, and a two-game suspension from the NHL Department of Player Safety the following day.

Why Suspend Hertl 2 Games? NHL Explains

Hertl Deserves Suspension

That said, the Sharks’ alternate captain was surprised to be suspended for two games, and offered his thoughts as to why. He also addressed the Lindholm cross-checks that got him riled up.

Tomas Hertl, on if he was surprised to be suspended two games:

Honestly, I was…When I got to the hearing next day, I looked at it more. I didn’t hurt anybody or anything, [but] the stick was higher than I wanted. After two cross-checks I wanted to just [defend] myself, but I was just in a bad position.

But honestly, I was so surprised I got two games. I have no history, nothing else. I saw a couple of hits, Kuznetsov’s earlier this year, he got one game. So I was like I’ll probably get one game.

It really sucks I got two because we don’t play for the next eight days. I don’t like to be out for that long.

It’s my mistake, I did it. I know the league is trying to protect the players, but I thought it would be a fine or maybe one game, if anything, because I have no history. I didn’t even hit him that hard, but I know it was to the face and I can’t do that, that’s the bottom line.

Hertl, on San Jose Sharks’ argument to the NHL that force of Hertl’s high stick was minimal:

Yeah, he’s not hurt. I’m more pissed because he scored two goals 20 seconds later. It’s not like he has to get to the locker room to get checked out. He never left the ice or anything. I don’t think I got him like all the way to the face.

But it was my stick and I shouldn’t react, but sometimes, it happens so quick. Like I said, I wanted to [defend] myself because I got two cross-checks. For sure, I don’t mean to go high. I meant to go low. But it was after a faceoff, and I was still not holding my stick properly, like how I normally hold it. It’s just on me.

I’m more mad because I can’t help the boys for the next two games which is important to me.

Hertl, on if the NHL clarified the difference between his infraction and Evgeny Kuznetsov’s on Kyle Burroughs and Pierre Engvall’s on Sean Durzi earlier this season:

I feel like it was a little bit because there was a couple more [high sticking suspensions] this year…so they feel like it just can’t happen anymore to anybody. So I feel two games for that is a little bit too much. I don’t know. It’s tough.

Hertl, on if the referees could’ve defused the situation by calling Lindholm for his initial cross-checks:

I don’t know. I know he was [frustrated] because I beat him on a couple face offs…He hit me, if I don’t turn, it actually could be my face because [the first cross-check] was the shoulder, I cannot cover there. It’s kind of part of hockey, at the same time, and I just tried to go [at] him…but my stick got up.

Hertl, on taking the time, even on a tough day, to bag skate and take selfies with the fans after regular San Jose Sharks practice:

It’s part of it. You have to still stay in shape and you want to be always ready.

It’s not easy after actually coming off the break, like after [an] injury, just the game is so different than practices.

Fans waiting, watching me bag skating there, it’s part of it. For the kids take pictures, sign [things], that’s why we are here.

It’s part of what we do so that’s always been me. It doesn’t matter, sometimes you lose, win, but the fans are there.

That’s why we play sports. We play for the fans. So when you can, try to give something back.

It’s not every time. Because sometimes you have a really bad game and you just don’t want to talk to anybody. But you have to give something back to the fans, because that’s why we play the sport.

Hertl, on if he’s spoken with Luke Kunin about his season-ending ACL surgery:

I talked to him before, a little bit.

I felt so bad for him because it’s really tough, this kind of injury.

It’s always tough, especially when guys go on a road trip, you’re kind of alone here, maybe with a couple of trainers. You have to work and it’s still hard [when your teammates are here], but we can [at least] make jokes [with] other guys and have more fun.

If [you’ve never been] injured, they don’t even know how hard it is to be everyday working out all day. You can’t play, not just working out, but other stuff [to] heal. It’s a long process to heal. I really feel bad for him, but he will be back and even stronger.

Special thanks to Max Miller for his transcription help.

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