NEW YORK (AP) — The NHL on Saturday upheld the 10-game suspension of Anaheim Ducks center Antoine Vermette for slashing a linesman.
Commissioner Gary Bettman kept the full ban in place but also declined to lengthen it. Vermette will lose $97,222 in salary.
Vermette slapped his stick against the back of linesman Shandor Alphonso’s legs after losing a faceoff to Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu during the third period of the Ducks’ 1-0 win on Feb. 14. Vermette had a hearing with Bettman on Thursday after appealing the initial suspension.
The veteran forward served the fifth game of his suspension Saturday when the Ducks visited Los Angeles. He is eligible to return at home March 12 against Washington.
The ordinarily mild-mannered Vermette appeared to act out of frustration when Alphonso dropped the puck before the forward had put his stick in place on the ice. Officials immediately assessed a game misconduct to Vermette.
Bettman noted in his written opinion Vermette’s “sincere remorse.” The player apologized to Alphonso, who is in his first full season as an NHL linesman.
The NHL Players’ Association sought a reduction to a five-game suspension, noting Vermette’s usually exemplary behavior. He has been whistled for only two major penalties in a 13-season career.
The union argued the slash wasn’t a deliberate application of physical force under NHL rules, but a lesser action deserving a smaller suspension. But Alphonso described the blow as a “slash” in his postgame report and again in testimony at Vermette’s hearing.
“Although there does not appear to be any evidence of intent to injure the official, the blow delivered by Vermette was not merely a ‘tap,’ as the NHLPA suggested,” Bettman wrote.
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