A Swedish prosecutor has charged defenseman Thomas Larkin with assault for a blind-side hit on former NHLer Daniel Paille, a check to the head that appears to have ended Paille’s career. The hit “goes beyond a level of violence that can be allowed in sports,” the prosecutor told Sportbladet.
The check took place in a game on Nov. 7, 2017, between German team Adler Mannheim and Swedish side Brynas. Larkin, a British-born Italian defenseman who made it as high as the AHL in North America before going back to Europe in 2015, laid this hit on Paille, who appeared in parts of 12 NHL seasons with the Sabres, Bruins, and Rangers.
Larkin was suspended just three games for the hit. Paille, in his second season in Europe, suffered a severe concussion and was unable to play again the rest of the year. This summer he announced he was stepping away from hockey to focus on his rehabilitation.
The prosecutor, Joakim Johansson, said he made the decision to charge Larkin following a decision this summer by Sweden’s Supreme Court, which upheld the assault conviction of Jakob Lilja for this cross-check to the back of the neck of an opponent during a 2015 game.
Speaking of Larkin’s hit, Johansson said, “I think he has exercised a violence that goes beyond the idea of the game.”