Though he didn’t think any supplementary discipline was warranted, Evgeni Malkin has been suspended one game for his high stick last night. The Pittsburgh Penguins forward struck Michael Raffl in the head. As the accompanying video from the Department of Player Safety explains:
It is important to note that while we understand Malkin’s contention that his stick only made glancing contact with Raffl, this does not excuse his actions. In fact, NHL stick fouls do not require that contact actually be made for discipline to be assessed. Under rule 60.4, a match penalty for high-sticking is to be assessed ’when in the opinion of the referee, a player attempts to or deliberately injures an opponent while carrying or holding any part of his stick above the shoulders of the opponent.’
We agree with the on-ice officials that assessed the match penalty. This is not a reckless play where a spinning player loses some amount of control over his stick. This is an intentional stick swing directed at an opponent with force, at a dangerous height and for the purposes of retaliation.
Malkin has a history of fines in his career and has been involved in several dangerous incidents, but has never served a suspension before. That likely was taken into account in determining the length of this ban, along with the fact that he made only glancing contact.
The Penguins face the Edmonton Oilers tomorrow night and will be without one of their superstars, though he should be back for their matchup with the Calgary Flames on Saturday night. Malkin is not expected to appeal the suspension.