TAMPA — Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he does not believe Adam Erne targeted the head of Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka with a shoulder hit on Wednesday: "He's not that type of player."
Regardless, Erne, playing in his first game after being the 33rd overall draft pick in June, was suspended for three preseason games by the league for doing exactly that.
NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan acknowledged Sobotka had his head down and was in a vulnerable position, and that Sobotka was not injured.
Still, he said, "Erne must do a better job hitting more squarely through the body and not picking his opponent's head."
Erne, who got a minor penalty, apologized after the game and said the hit was unintentional.
"He does have to answer the bell for what he did," Cooper said. "There was no intent on Adam's part, but we're trying to pull that out of the game. We don't want guys getting injured."
Will the Blues respond tonight in St. Louis? Coach Ken Hitchcock was upset his players did not retaliate and told reporters, "The issue has been dealt with. We're moving forward on it. But we're not going to allow that to happen to our team."
"I don't think they're sending a message they're going to intimidate us," Cooper said. "If it is, more power to them. We'll see how it goes."