(UPDATE: Hathaway has been suspended for three games.)
WASHINGTON — Getting thrown out of the game probably won’t be the end of Garnet Hathaway’s punishment for spitting on an opponent.
The Washington Capitals forward could be suspended, or at the very least fined, for spitting on Anaheim Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson toward the end of a brawl Monday night. Officials gave Hathaway a match penalty that carries with it an ejection and an automatic suspension pending review by the NHL office.
Asked after the Capitals’ 5-2 victory if he expected further discipline, Hathaway said, “I think time will tell with that.” He added he regretted spitting on Gudbranson.
The Ducks were angry at Hathaway for what they called disrespectful behavior but didn’t want to speculate what might happen next. They’re off to the next stop on their road trip, and the Capitals don’t know if they’ll have Hathaway for their next game Wednesday at the New York Rangers.
Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins called it above his pay grade. Gudbranson said: “I have no idea. I’ll trust the league with that.”
Boston Bruins agitator extraordinaire Brad Marchand was warned during the playoffs for licking opponents but was not suspended. There’s little precedent for Hathaway’s actions, other than the part of the rulebook that deems it worthy of an ejection and the league’s process of having its hockey operations department review each match penalty.
Washington is already up against the salary cap with the minimum 12 forwards and six defensemen healthy. If Hathaway is suspended, it could wreak havoc on the Capitals’ roster.
“It seems like it’s been a constant equation for us the last little while here,” coach Todd Reirden said. “(We’ll) see where we’re at in terms of injured players and potential situation here with whatever the league does. It’s out of my hands now.”