The decision has come down, and the Florida Panthers will be without Michael Matheson for the next few days. The Department of Player Safety has suspended Matheson two games for interference and unsportsmanlike conduct in regards to the incident with Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson on Saturday night. As the accompanying video explains:
This is not a hockey play. What causes this incident to rise to the level of supplemental discipline, is that it encompasses two separate and distinct acts. First, Matheson pins Pettersson to the boards in a legal and effective defensive maneuver. Then with the puck long separated from the area, and Pettersson unable to defend himself, Matheson drives him directly downward and into the ice with force, causing an injury.
This is the first suspension for Matheson, who does not have a history of dirty play. His defense of the situation included stating that Pettersson’s “lightness” surprised him, per agent Kent Hughes, but nevertheless the dangerous act of throwing him down is still worthy of a suspension. Matheson forfeits just over $52K of his $3MM salary for the year. Matheson will miss contests against the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals and will be eligible to return to the Panthers’ lineup on Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.
Meanwhile, Pettersson has entered the league’s concussion protocol and the Canucks expect that he will miss seven to ten days. While some may feel that the Matheson’s punishment doesn’t fit the crime, seeing as Pettersson was concussed on a purposeful play by the Panthers defenseman, a seven-day absence would only cost the young center three games. Considering Matheson maintains that he did not intend to hurt Pettersson, this seems like a fair response to the incident.