Max Domi’s season isn’t getting off to the best of starts. The Montreal Canadiens forward picked up a match penalty for a sucker punch to the nose of Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad. The Department of Player Safety then suspended Domi for the remainder of the preseason due to his actions.
Domi clearly wanted to drop the mitts in the third period of their preseason game, but Ekblad wasn’t interested. So, like any reasonable adult, Domi punched Ekblad in the face. Ekblad was left a bloody mess.
Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo called Domi “gutless” for the punches, but the Canadiens didn’t seem to think Domi was in the wrong.
Per USA Today, Jonathan Drouin put some of the blame on Ekblad.
“The two were arguing with one another. I saw a pretty big slash from Ekblad on Max, and Max just took matters into his own hands. It’s also Ekblad’s fault for not protecting himself.”
Did the NHL handle this one correctly? That’s a tough call. Domi is certainly in the wrong here and has been suspended once in his 222-game career. This was a pretty bad offense, and while it probably doesn’t deserve a massive suspension, it may have sent a stronger message to hold Domi out from a game that actually matters.
The NHL has a history of mishandling situations like these. Here, we may cut them some slack because they at least did something, but they’re going to have to step up and deal out harsher punishments to cut moments like these out of the game.