The NHL Department of Player Safety announced a one-game suspension for Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin. The ruling comes after Larkin was given a match penalty during Thursday night’s game after a punch to the face of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Mathieu Joseph. As noted in the explanatory video, the rationale behind the suspension from the Department is as follows:
Larkin and Joseph raced for the loose puck, and Larkin cuts in front of Joseph to establish position. Joseph shoves Larkin, causing him to hit the boards and fall to the ice. Larkin then gets to his feet, finds Joseph and swings wildly, punching the unsuspecting Joseph in the face with a gloved hand, with sufficient force to knock him to the ice. This is roughing. It is important to note that this is not a case of two players who willingly choose to engage in a mutual confrontation. Joseph has no warning that he is about to be punched, and Larkin gives him no time to brace for contact, defend himself or choose to engage in the altercation. We understand that Larkin is frustrated on this play, but as our Department has established in the past, players are not excused from punishment merely because they’re acting in response to the actions of another player. What causes this play to rise to the level of supplemental discipline is the retaliatory nature of the punch and the force with which it is delivered to an unsuspecting opponent.
Larkin has no previous history of suspension. He will miss Saturday’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks and will be eligible to return on Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
It’s also important to note that Larkin may have been held out of the game against Vancouver regardless, as he was an extremely limited participant in practice Friday morning due to a potential injury suffered on the controversial hit by Joseph. Larkin’s health will be evaluated.
In Larkin’s absence, it’s likely that Robby Fabbri will shift to center on the top line with Tyler Bertuzzi and Lucas Raymond, who could make his NHL debut on Saturday, on his wings. Carter Rowney could slot into the lineup in a fourth-line role.