Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Rusty Klesla left the ice on a stretcher after absorbing a big open-ice hit from the Los Angeles Kings’ Jordan Nolan at 9:44 of the first period of the teams’ preseason opener Sunday at Jobing.com Arena.
Coyotes assistant general manager Brad Treliving said the issue appeared to be with Klesla’s neck. Klesla was examined at the arena before being taken to a nearby hospital for evaluation. He was alert but still immobilized.
A replay of the hit showed Nolan clearly making first contact with Klesla’s head under the chin and leaving his feet on the follow-through. The hit could be grounds for suspension under Rule 48. The only mitigating factor was that Klesla was skating with his head down (a possibly vulnerable position), but the angle of his head does not appear to change before the hit is made.