As I wrote yesterday, I had plans for Valentine's day and didn't watch the game live. Checking the score after I returned home, I saw the Ducks shutout win and looked forward to watching the replay in the morning. When I got up and watched the sports report, I saw what transpired at 7:33 of the third period.
By now Ducks fans have seen the footage of center Antoine Vermette whacking linesman Shandor Alphonso in the legs with his stick. When I saw my first thoughts were: Why in the blue hell would Vermette do that? As well as; “What was he thinking?”
I mulled it over in my mind. My second thought was there absolutely no call for intentionally making contact with an official, ever. Its a line that should never be crossed in competition. Aside from the obvious safety concerns, a player has to know what the consequences of such an action is. In either case, safety or punishment, Vermette didn't care.
On the official punishment front, Vermette can expect a ten game suspension from the NHL according to rule 40.3 Category II:
“Any player or goalkeeper who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner (excluding actions as set out in Category I), which physical force is applied without intent to injure, shall be automatically suspended for not less than ten (10) games. “
Category I applies to a deliberate attempt to injure and if that was Vermette's intent, Alphonso would have been writhing on the ice in pain.
That's not all. Vermette can expect secondary “retaliation”. He won't get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to boarder line calls for a long time. Also, he better watch himself on the ice because whether intentional or not penalties committed against him might not get called.
All in all Vermette has not only hurt himself and his reputation, he has hurt the Ducks. He has become an integral part of the teams. A ten game absence at this time of year is a major blow to Anaheim's stretch run.
As hard as it is to believe, GM Bob Murray spoke to the media earlier this week. He acknowledged that trade inquiries have ramped up. "The phone has started to ring, not specifically about the young defensemen but more about teams preparing for the deadline," he told the OCR. In addition, he said that those young defensemen wouldn't be moved for a deadline rental, but rather in a hockey deal.
Murray may be blowing smoke or posturing. I do however believe the last part about a young defenseman not being moved in a rental deal. The GM is wise to hold his best trade assets close to the vest. One thing he didn't mention was young forwards. The expansion draft is coming and players such as Kalle Kossila, Ondrej Kase and Nic Kerdiles could be in demand at deadline time.