A late-game scuffle is going to cost Montreal Canadiens forward Phillip Danault. The Department of Player Safety announced today that Danault has been served with a $5,000 fine for a “dangerous trip” on Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the maximum fine for that type of penalty under the NHL CBA. While it the maximum amount that Player Safety may fine Danault, $5,000 is less than one-seventh of Danault’s next game check on his $3MM salary this season.
The incident in question occurred late in the third period, when Danault lodged his stick underneath the left knee of Ekblad after a scrum along the boards. Danault then used that leverage to upend Ekblad, causing him to topple to the ice. Ekblad responded immediately, chasing down Danault before the pair dropped the gloves. However, it was again Danault getting the takedown as Ekblad was once gain forced to the ice. Danault received a two-minute minor on the play for tripping in addition to the five-minute major for fighting that both players received.
While Player Safety properly saw fit to punish Danault further for the dangerous takedown and the Montreal center will be out a decent amount of money, it is safe to say that last night’s events were far more damaging for Ekblad. This was the first meeting between the Panthers and Canadiens since the preseason, when Max Domi earned a suspension for the remainder of the preseason for sucker punching an unwilling Ekblad. Many expected the big Florida defenseman to seek his retribution against Domi in this re-match, but again the 6’4″, 220-lb. Ekblad shied away from confrontation despite knowing that the much smaller Domi is usually a willing combatant. Instead, Ekblad waited until the last minute before engaging with Danault, not known for his physical prowess, and still ended up “losing” the fight after being taken down by the smaller Danault. It was Ekblad’s first bout of the season and only the fifth of his career, as the Panthers’ defensive cornerstone hasn’t felt the need to fight to prove that that he has the toughness to match his size and strength. Now that smaller Canadiens forwards have gotten the best of him twice, will he feel the need to prove himself?