Max Domi was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in the offseason, and he wasted no time in making an impact with his new team.
However, it wasn’t the type of impact the NHL wanted to see as Domi was ejected after landing a cheap shot on Florida’s Aaron Ekblad during preseason action Wednesday night.
The 5-foot-10 Domi got tangled up with the 6-foot-4 Ekblad during the third period, and a fight in which there was only participant broke out.
Domi grabbed a hold of Ekblad, who showed no interest in sparring with his opponent. Domi threw a couple of jabs toward Ekblad’s face while the Panthers’ star defenseman was seemingly looking at referees to break it up.
With Ekblad’s head turned sideways, Domi shook off his right glove and delivered a punch straight to the face of Ekblad, which dropped him to the ice.
Ekblad was left bloodied as he got back to his feet and was helped off the ice.
The 22-year-old defenseman has a history of concussions dating back to his time in Juniors, but he passed all tests, according to Panthers reporter Jameson Olive.
Boughner said New York called after the punch and Ekblad was forced to undergo concussion testing. He passed.
— Jameson Olive (@JamesonCoop) September 20, 2018
Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo labeled Domi’s punch as “gutless” and said his team won’t forget about it.
“I’m sure the league will look at it, and we definitely won’t forget about it,” Luongo told reporters. “You don’t do that. You respect your opponents, and if your opponent doesn’t want to engage in a fight, there’s no reason to drop your glove and punch him square in the face. Bit of a gutless play. You don’t do those types of things.”
Domi’s teammates stuck up for him, and center Jonathan Drouin saw the play differently than most.
“The two were arguing with one another,” Drouin said. “I saw a pretty big slash from Ekblad on Max, and Max just took matters into his own hands. It’s also Ekblad’s fault for not protecting himself.”
Meanwhile, the NHL is subjecting Domi to a hearing to determine what discipline he will face.
Montreal’s Max Domi will have a hearing tomorrow for roughing/ punch to an unsuspecting opponent against Florida’s Aaron Ekblad.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) September 20, 2018
This isn’t the first time Domi has been at the center of controversy on the ice. In 2016, while with the Arizona Coyotes, Domi attacked Anaheim Ducks winger Ryan Garbutt after Garbutt nailed Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the back. Domi chased down Garbutt, spun him around and punched him several times.
The NHL ended up suspending Domi one game for “instigating an altercation,” but he didn’t show much remorse afterward.
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