Tough-guy Edinburgh Capitals forward Riley Emmerson will today find out whether the club’s appeal against his controversial ten-game suspension, for a hit dished out in the second minute of his Caps debut on Belfast Giants’ player Kevin Phillips at Murrayfield earlier this month, has been successful.
The Elite League’s Department of Player Safety wished to review the incident due to Phillips suffering a suspected concussion.
However, Edinburgh failed to record the first five minutes of the match and as a result the club were hit with a £1000 fine and Emmerson’s initial two-minute penalty was upgraded to a ten-game ban.
Phillips’ injury was not as serious as first feared and the GB International played in Giants’ next game, also against Edinburgh, five days later.
Emmerson, who has sat out Capitals’ last three matches, revealed he was delighted with Philips’ speedy recovery, but distraught at the severity of the punishment
He said: “I only heard about their decision after I had travelled with the team to Belfast for our next game. We knew the Giants had asked for the play to be reviewed but we weren’t expecting anything like this. We were shocked.
“The initial press release said it was a serious concussion and that’s why it was ten games. I’m delighted he’s back so quickly. I’ve had a serious concussion after being knocked out in a fight and it takes time to recover. I’m ecstatic it turned out he wasn’t badly hurt. He’s now back helping his club and I want to be back helping mine.”
The 6ft 8in Canadian, who prior to his Edinburgh move made more than 400 professional appearances in North America and missed only seven games through suspension, fears if the appeal, which cost the club a further £2000, does not go his way he will be a marked man in the eyes of officials halting his natural high-energy, physical game.
Emmerson continued: “For something like this to happen in my first game is very unfortunate. The Caps fans have been incredible, as well as my team-mates and the management who have been fantastic in putting this appeal together at such great cost to the club.
“Even fans and players from other teams have contacted both the club and myself to let us know how much they are supporting us on this. That’s something you don’t see a lot and I’m very grateful.
“When I come back I don’t want to be worried I have a target on my back and every time I make a hit I’m going to get suspended.
“I think I’m the tallest player ever to play in this league and I’m 255lbs as well so obviously there’s going to be some big checks and I hope that doesn’t count against me.
“It’s never been my intention to hurt anyone. It’s my job to go out there and play with energy and compete. Part of my role is to finish checks. It happened so fast, my arms were down, I didn’t go in with an elbow or anything like that. It was a clean, hard hit.”
All going well, Emmerson could be cleared to play in Sunday’s clash with Cardiff Devils at Murrayfield (face-off 6pm), and with or without him he expects a tough battle with the rejuvenated Welsh outfit.
He said: “I know a lot of their players. Watch out for Joey Martin, who I’ve played with before, he’s a top-end scorer, and I’ve played against their coach Andrew Lord who’s put together a very good squad with guys like Jesse Mychan and Trevor Hendrix. It’s going to be a very big test for us.”