A Winnipeg Jets forward is expressing his hurt, saying his family is being harassed for his actions in the team's Wednesday night playoff game.
During the home game, Mark Scheifele handed Montreal Canadien Jake Evans a heavy hit, knocking him to the ground. Evans is out indefinitely with a concussion.
Scheifele spoke to media Friday after the Department of Player Safety ruled he would be off the ice for the next four Winnipeg Jets games.
"The number one thing is Jake Evan's health. I reached out to a couple of other guys and hear he is doing well. He did not have to go to the hospital which is good news," Scheifele says. "I am just hoping for a speedy recovery and I am praying for him."
Evans has not spoken to the media since the hit. Coach Dominique Ducharme tells the media Friday that Evans is recovering and "we are moving on. The league said they were going to take care of it. We got the sentence out and for us, we are preparing for tonight. That's it. That's behind us."
The player says he did not realize how hard of a hit it was until moments after, saying he was focused on negating a goal. He says this was the first time he hurt a player, saying his actions hurt himself as well because of his respect for the players and league.
Scheifele is concerned for Evans and his recovery, reiterating that he is leaning on his faith at this time.
"First and foremost is his health and how he is doing. I pray for a quick and speedy recovery for him and that he is ok."
Scheifele says he has to learn from this hit, saying "you just have to know there is a plan for everything."
The player, while disagreeing with the ruling, is not contesting the suspension.
Since the hit, he and his family have been experiencing harassment.
"I can accept the punishment. I can accept the accountability. That is what you sign up for, you know being in the NHL, but you know, the hate that my family has gotten, the bullying that they have gotten is completely unacceptable. The online, phone calls, it is pretty gross to see," Scheifele says, getting choked up. "My parents are the salt of the earth, and you know for my parents (and my brother and sister) to get hate like that is awful."
He says while he is a "big boy" and can handle it, it hurts him to see his family be subjected to that hate.
"That is completely unacceptable."
Quoting another Christian athlete, Tim Tebow, Scheifele says he wants to be remembered for the positive impact he has on people, something Scheifele says he prides himself on.
"I pride myself on being someone that respects the game, and respects every single guy on the ice. And I hope people continue to think that of me."