Milan Lucic has been suspended two games for his punch on Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kole Sherwood Saturday night.
The Calgary Flames forward took exception to Sherwood’s extra poke at the puck — which earned him a minor — as goaltender David Rittich covered it for a faceoff. As Lucic approached Sherwood he threw a punch and then a big scrum went down behind the net. Sherwood did go through concussion protocol but returned to the game.
Lucic was given a double-minor for roughing, and not long after the game ended 3-0 in the Flames’ favor the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced there would be a Sunday hearing.
Here’s the NHL’s reasoning for the two-game ban, which sees Lucic’s recent history come into play:
Lucic will begin his suspension Sunday night and will be eligible to return Thursday against the Devils. He will also lose out on $64,516.12 in salary, which will be donated to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
UPDATE: Flames GM Brad Treliving responds to the two-game suspension:
“I have the utmost respect for George Parros and the Department of Player Safety. They do a great job. But on this one, we vehemently disagree. I saw a player who poked, jabbed, whacked, speared, whatever you want to call it, the goaltender. I think 31 teams around the league, if you do that to anybody, there is going to be a reaction. We support our player 100%. We want our players to support each other, back each other up, and we felt that’s what Milan was doing in this case.”
At this rate, Milan Lucic might finish the 2019-20 season with more questionable punches than goals.
Much has been made about James Neal making Lucic look bad by comparison, but it’s increasingly clear that Lucic seems to think of himself as an enforcer for the Calgary Flames, as much as anything else. He had zero goals and three assists through 15 games this season heading into Saturday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, and his biggest impact might be of the more literal variety.
Blue Jackets rookie Kole Sherwood made what seemed like a pretty innocuous jab for a rebound attempt at Flames goalie David Rittich, and that prompted Lucic to catch him mostly unaware with a very questionable punch.
Was it a sucker punch? Some might say no, but it certainly seemed ugly.
Curiously, Lucic was whistled with a roughing double-minor for the play, rather than something more substantial like a major penalty or misconduct. The NHL tends to let a lot of “after the whistle” things go, so it remains to be seen if anything comes of this, but you have to wonder if the league is comfortable with plays like these.
For what it’s worth, this exchange seemed worse than Lucic’s other borderline one-sided “fight,” although one could question his actions against Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov from the two teams’ season-opener in October, too:
Should Lucic face supplemental discipline, or was that double-minor sufficient? It definitely helps Lucic’s cause that Sherwood was able to return to the game, which is just the third NHL contest of his career.
Calgary’s Milan Lucic will have a hearing Sunday for Roughing Columbus’ Kole Sherwood.