It could have been worse. Pittsburgh Penguins star center Evgeni Malkin has been suspended for one game without pay by the NHL Department of Player Safety for his stick swinging incident Monday night.
Malkin and Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl were involved in a battle at center ice. After Raffl punched Malkin from behind, Malkin one-handedly swung his stick at Raffl, and just grazed Raffl’s helmet. Officials assessed Malkin a match penalty and the Penguins were forced to kill a major penalty for the remaining five minutes of regulation.
According to the NHL Department of Player Safety video update,
“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,” the video said. “In fact, NHL stick fouls do not require contact be made for discipline.”
Malkin had missed the Penguins previous five games due to a hand injury suffered on Jan. 30 against Tampa Bay.
After the game, Malkin was not conciliatory.
“I know it’s dirty but my stick missed his helmet and shoulder,” Malkin said. “He dove and the referee gave me five minutes. It wasn’t dangerous. He wasn’t bleeding.”
Earlier this season, Malkin was given a match penalty for a high hit on Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie but was not suspended. Despite admitted struggles and frustration, Malkin has 56 points (14g, 42a) in 51 games this season, including three points in his last two games.
Malkin will forfeit about $51,075 in salary and the money will go to the Players Emergency Assistance Fund.