The National Hockey League suspended Anaheim Ducks center Antoine Vermette 10 games Thursday for his two-handed slash of rookie linesman Shandor Alphonso during the Ducks’ Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild.
In addition to the 10-game ban, Vermette will forfeit $97,222.22 of his salary, based on his annual salary per NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
With 12:30 to go in the third period, Alphonso dropped the puck Tuesday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, for a neutral zone faceoff between Vermette and the Wild’s Mikko Koivu.
What happened next has the hockey world shaking its head.
Koivu won the draw and Vermette stayed still, then turned to Alphonso and gave him a two-handed slash across the back of his right leg. Vermette, 34, a veteran of 968 NHL games, was given a 10-minute misconduct for official abuse and ejected from the game.
Alphonso wasn’t injured. The Orange County Register reported that Vermette had been miffed that the puck was dropped when he wasn’t set for the draw.
Alphonso was promoted to full-time status this season, ending a two-year apprenticeship that had him officiating 40 NHL games and 40 American Hockey League contest. He joined veteran Jay Sharrers, his role model, and the NHL’s only other black on-ice official.
The league had to decide whether Vermette would receive a 20-game suspension for intentionally trying to injure an official or the 10-game ban for the use of physical force against an official without intent to injure.
Ducks Head Coach Randy Carlyle told The Register that Vermette’s action “wasn’t really a vicious or any type of malice thing.”
“He wasn’t trying to hurt anybody,’ the coach told the newspaper. “It was more of a tap to blow-the-whistle-type of thing. Because usually what happens, if they do drop tje puck unfairly, the linesman or the referee will blow the whistle and reset it.”
The Color of Hockey’s Lew Serviss wrote this article.