The NHL has suspended Anaheim Ducks forward Antoine Vermette 10 games without pay for slashing a linesman last Tuesday in a game against the Minnesota Wild.
The situation in question occurred with 12:27 left in the third period off a faceoff between Vermette and forward Mikko Koivu. After the puck was dropped by linesman Shandor Alphonso, Vermette slashed the official and was immediately assessed a game misconduct.
The NHL cited Rule 40, Physical Abuse of Officials and specifically section 40.3 Automatic Suspension – Category II for disciplining Vermette. The rule states the following:
Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any matter (excluding actions as set out in Category I), which physical force is applied without intent to injure, or who spits on an official, shall be automatically suspended for not less than ten (10) games.
Category I, which was cited in Dennis Wideman’s cross-check of linesman Don Henderson last year, involves deliberate physical force of a player with “intent to injure, or who in any manner attempts to injure an official.”
The 34-year-old Vermette will be docked $97,222.22 of his salary for this season. According to Sportsnet’s John Shannon, Vermette plans to appeal the suspension. The first appeal would be heard by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman followed by an independent arbitrator if Vermette appeals Bettman’s ruling. Last year, Bettman upheld a 20-game suspension on Wideman before a neutral arbitrator reduced it to 10 games. Wideman still sat for 19 games, but the lessening of the suspension decreased his fine.
Vermette has received no supplemental discipline from the NHL in his career that has spanned 968 games
An interview request by the Orange County Register for Vermette after the game was not granted. Ducks coach Randy Carlyle tried to explain what happened as best he could.
“To me, these are things that the league reviews,” Carlyle said. “We have a view on it, they have a view on it. Whatever they decide, we have to live with. Obviously the puck was dropped when our player was not ready. I looked at it and said ‘Well, why is he dropping the puck.’ All of a sudden, it looked like as if he was tapping him and just telling him a blow-the-whistle-type of thing.
“It wasn’t really a vicious or any type of malice thing. He wasn’t trying to hurt anybody. It was more of a tap to blow-the-whistle-type thing. Because usually what happens, if they do drop the puck unfairly, the linesman or the referee will blow the whistle and reset it.”
If the suspension holds, Vermette won’t be able to return until March 12. Anaheim signed Vermette to a two-year, $3.5 million contract last summer after he was bought out by the Arizona Coyotes, and he has turned into a consistent contributor. Vermette has picked up 22 points and won 62.4 percent of his faceoffs. Because of Vermette’s likely appeal, the Ducks will not comment until the process has been completed.
– – – – – – –
MORE FROM YAHOO SPORTS