His regular season debut won’t be affected, but Max Domi has been suspended for the remainder of the preseason schedule for his punch on Florida’s Aaron Ekblad last night. Montreal has five more games on the exhibition schedule, that they’ll have to play without their new first line center. As the accompanying video explains:
Domi spends a considerable amount of time attempting to force Ekblad into a fight, and Ekblad visibly refuses him multiple times. Ekblad ignores Domi as he throws multiple jabs with his gloves on, clearly showing restraint and declining to engage. Rather than skate away and accept that is opponent is an unwilling combatant, Domi drops his stick and glove and delivers a forceful, bare-knuckle punch to Ekblad’s face.
Domi will be allowed to practice with the team and actually does not forfeit any salary, but will be considered a repeat offender going forward. His NHL record will also now include a second suspension, which will lead to more harsh consequences should he ever be involved in an incident again. Still, the biggest loss for both Domi and the Montreal Canadiens at this point is likely any in-game chemistry that he would have built with his new teammates over the next few weeks as they’ll need to integrate someone else into the top line.
The 23-year old Domi needs a good offensive season to really establish himself as a core piece going forward for the Canadiens. Remember, he’s only signed through the 2019-20 season on his current deal and will need to start extension negotiations next summer. A return to the 18-goal, 52-point performance of his rookie campaign would be a good start, but even more important may be his play at center ice. If Domi can prove himself a capable option down the middle, he’ll hold even more leverage over the Canadiens in the summer of 2020. He’ll have to avoid incidents like this going forward if he’s to stay on the ice, but has escaped this time without missing any regular season action.