Max Domi’s actions on Florida Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad was nothing short of dirty, but the league (yet again) hands out a soft suspension.
Tensions were high, but what ultimately crossed the line was the dirty behavior committed by forward Max Domi who intentionally dropped his gloves and went after Aaron Ekblad who gave no consent to fight.
No one would question that fighting has always been a part of the game, but for a fight to occur, two players need to give their consent to drop the gloves and go for a dance. And from the footage that was quickly released, we can see quite clearly that wasn’t the case:
Because of this, Ekblad suffered a broken nose and multiple bruises across his face. Thankfully, the impact of the punches haven’t led to a concussion, but for those familiar with Ekblad’s injury history, it really isn’t pretty.
After sustaining multiple concussions throughout his young hockey career, Ekblad cannot afford another one. The 22-year-old has a promising career ahead of him, but it’s incidents like these which can ruin and shorten a player’s career.
Since the incident, Max Domi has publicly apologized and offered his regret in what went down in last Wednesday’s preseason outing, noting:
"“I feel bad about it. It’s not the way I wanted to handle that. It’s an emotional game. Obviously, I’m an emotional player. But, you know what, I got to suffer the consequences of it. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is and I definitely respect the league’s decision.”"
"“I’ve known Aaron for a long time. Grew up playing against each other. We always play hard, always battle, whether it was in minor hockey, junior, the national level, and now the NHL, too. By no means did I want to hurt him. I feel bad about it and I hope he’s OK.”"
But what was Aaron’s thoughts in regards to this? Ekblad said the following:
"“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. That’s life, though. 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.”"
And Aaron isn’t wrong, either. On Thursday, Sept. 20, the NHL Player Safety Department released that Max Domi would miss the remainder of the preseason due to his actions, which ultimately caused an uproar of disbelief by the hockey community.
The uproar of disbelief was over the length of Domi’s suspension, which was viewed as too short in the eyes of many. The underline question: how could a player only get off with just preseason games for viciously beating a player who didn’t want to engage in a fight?
Like Ekblad, I too believe that the suspension ruling was a joke. If it was my call to determine the sanction, I would’ve started with the remainder of the preseason and add six regular-season games on top.
Ideally, a player isn’t going to learn by missing out on exhibition. After all, it’s only preseason that we’re talking about which counts for absolutely nothing!
That’s why I believe that regular-season games should account for the suspension – because at the end of the day – the individual is going to learn when the consequences are higher.
Aaron Ekblad will get his comeuppance against Max Domi when the two meet again on Dec. 28. It may not be Ekblad who goes after him, but I can assure you that there will be a special surprise waiting for Domi on the night that the two meet.