Montreal Canadiens center Max Domi was suspended for the remainder of the pre season for roughing Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the NHL Player Safety office announced via video on Thursday.
Domi was given a match penalty for delivering a sucker punch to Ekblad during the third period of Wednesday’s game. Domi tried to coerce Ekblad into a fight on multiple occasions before dropping his right glove and delivering a barehanded shot to Ekblad’s face.
The incident infuriated Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo.
“We definitely won’t forget about it,” Luongo said afterward. “You don’t do that. You respect your opponents, and if your opponent doesn’t want to engage in a fight, there’s no reason to drop your glove and punch him square in the face. Bit of a gutless play. You don’t do those types of things.”
Domi will miss five pre season games and then will be eligible to return for the Oct. 3 regular-season opener at the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Domi was given the match penalty for “attempt to/deliberate injury” and a minor penalty for roughing after punching Ekblad about a minute into the third period of the Panthers’ 5-2 win.
Ekblad, who was cut on the forehead and bleeding down his face and jersey, was taken straight to the locker room and did not return, though he cleared concussion protocol after going through tests.
The encounter began in the corner when Ekblad arrived with a quick slash and a check to Domi, who returned the favor as the puck went back up the ice. The two stood face to face for a moment before Ekblad turned away, but Domi grabbed his jersey collar with his left hand and threw three jabs with the same hand. When Ekblad did not respond, Domi dropped his right glove and delivered a shot to the chin, knocking Ekblad to the ice just before referees could arrive to separate the two.
Domi, who was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in mid-July, has 135 points (36 goals, 99 assists) and 185 penalty minutes through three NHL seasons. He led Arizona in penalty minutes last year with 73.
The Panthers, who led 2-1 at the time of the incident, scored three goals in the final 9:03 to win. The teams will first meet in the regular season Dec. 28 in Sunrise, Fla.
—Field Level Media