8:25 PM ET
ESPN News Services
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Brett Connolly was suspended Sunday for four games after an interference infraction on Dallas Stars center Tanner Kero, the NHL announced.
In the Stars’ 4-3 overtime victory over the Blackhawks on Saturday night in Dallas, Connelly was handed a major penalty in the first period. Just 3:02 into the game, he rode Kero into the boards. The suspension will cost Connolly $70,000. There is the potential to appeal the league’s decision.
Kero was taken from the ice on a stretcher with his head immobilized. In addition to five minutes for interference, Connelly received a game misconduct. Before the first period ended, the Stars reported that Kero was “conscious, alert and responsive.” He was taken to a hospital for precautionary measures and evaluation. After the game, Dallas coach Rick Bowness said that Kero had a concussion.
On Sunday in a social media post, Kero, in thanking his Instagram followers, said that he was home resting and doing better. The Stars posted that message on the team’s official Twitter page.
The Stars were clearly fazed — and perhaps inspired — by the incident. Dallas veteran forward Joe Pavelski, who scored twice in the win, spoke emotionally to reporters after the game.
“It’s terrible. I’ve been there before. My teammates rallied around me that night,” Pavelski said, referring to the time with the San Jose Sharks when he hit his head on the ice in a playoff game against the Vegas Golden Knights in May 2019, which ended his season.
“Tanner is awesome. He’s soft-spoken, but he shows up and works hard. He doesn’t miss a day. When he gets called on to play, he shows up and makes sure to play. He plays hard. He’s a great teammate. I heard he’s doing all right. This win is definitely for him. You just say your prayers and wish for a speedy recovery.”
All that said, there was no finger pointing toward Connolly, on either side, after the game.
“I know Brett Connolly,” Bowness said. “I coached him in Tampa. He’s a great kid.”
Blackhawks interim coach Derek King concurred. “[Connolly]’s not that type of player,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.