The NHL suspended Max Domi the rest of preseason for sucker-punching Aaron Ekblad Wednesday night, but that might not be the only punishment the Canadiens’ forward receives for his indiscretion.
Speaking on Friday for the first time since suffering a broken nose in the incident, Ekblad remained openly angry with both Domi and the NHL’s decision not to suspend him into the regular season.
In his first game in a Canadiens sweater, Max Domi is tossed for this punch to the face of Aaron Ekblad. pic.twitter.com/VBKBxx4jeg
— Tim and Sid (@timandsid) September 20, 2018
“It’s kind of a gift…I don’t want to comment too much on the league’s decision, but I think it’s wrong,” said Ekblad, sporting a pair of black eyes.
“In the end, it’s hockey. That the way it goes. Scores will get settled at a later date.”
Ekblad on Domi incident: “It’s dumb. I think he’s stupid for doing it. In the end it’s hockey. That’s the way it goes, scores will get settled at a later date.” pic.twitter.com/3ClZ3W2JXJ
— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) September 21, 2018
The incident took place during Florida’s 5-2 victory over Montreal, escalating on Domi’s part after the two players exchanged slashes near the boards. Domi punched Ekblad several times with his gloved left hand. While the Panthers’ defenseman did not retaliate, Domi dropped his right glove and punched Ekblad in the face with his bare fist.
As a result, Domi received minor, major and match penalties. Ekblad — with a history of concussions — successfully passed the league’s concussion protocol, though he revealed on Friday his nose was broken by the last punch.
“It’s dumb,” stated Ekblad, who enters his fifth season with the Panthers. “I think he’s stupid for doing it.”
At least in pretty good spirits after the Domi cheap shot. @Ekblad5FLA #FlaPanthers pic.twitter.com/TZzi3H1qgi
— Steve Goldstein (@goldieonice) September 20, 2018
Veteran Panthers’ goaltender Roberto Luongo was fairly outraged with Domi’s actions.
“Bit of a gutless play,” Luongo said after Wednesday’s game. “You don’t do those types of things.”
It was Domi’s first game wearing the bleu, blanc et rouge following an offseason trade with the Coyotes. Missing the remainder of the preseason schedule will cost him an opportunity to become more acclimated with his new teammates, and new position as the Habs plan to move him from the wing to center. However, it won’t cost him a single penny in fines since players are not paid until the regular season starts.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt him,” Domi told reporters Friday. “Emotions got the best of me.”