Emotions ran high in a heated matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild on Saturday.

Golden Knights star center Jack Eichel was assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for spearing Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov in the second period.

The incident unfolded after Kaprizov delivered a stern check on Eichel, knocking him off the puck. Moments later, as Kaprizov skated by, Eichel jabbed his stick towards the Wild winger’s midsection, resulting in the controversial call.


While the spear appeared to be more of a reactionary tap than a vicious attack, the officials deemed it worthy of a major penalty and game misconduct after reviewing the play. Under NHL rules, any spearing infraction that makes contact with an opponent automatically results in a five-minute major and an ejection.

As a long-time hockey fan, I’ve seen far worse spearing incidents over the years. This one seemed to fall into a gray area – reckless and ill-advised, certainly, but not necessarily malicious. Eichel let his emotions get the best of him in the heat of the moment, but I don’t believe there was an intent to injure Kaprizov.

That said, the onus is on the player to keep their stick down and under control at all times. Even if Eichel felt wronged by Kaprizov’s check, retaliating with a spear is never the answer. It’s a dangerous play that the league is right to crack down on.

The incident overshadowed what was an exciting and intense game between two of the Western Conference’s top teams jockeying for playoff position. On the ensuing power play after the spearing major, Kaprizov made Eichel pay by scoring to put the Wild up 1-0.

Eichel will need to be more disciplined and keep his cool, especially with the playoffs on the horizon. The Golden Knights can ill afford to lose a player of his caliber to suspension or have him taking needless penalties.

The league will surely review the play for potential supplemental discipline. However, given that this was Eichel’s first major spearing penalty and that Kaprizov was uninjured on the play, I wouldn’t expect more than a fine or perhaps a one-game suspension at most.

While Eichel’s frustration was understandable, he must find better ways to channel his emotions on the ice. The Golden Knights will need their star center focused and in the lineup as they gear up for what they hope will be a deep playoff run this spring.