Clarkson hit with ban
NEW YORK: David Clarkson was slapped with a 10-game ban on Monday after he left a Toronto Maple Leafs bench to join a brawl in the third period of an exhibition game against Ottawa.
The NHL disciplinary officials said the 10 games was an automatic suspension for a player who leaves the bench to fight.
Clarkson left the Senators’ bench on Sunday to defend teammate Phil Kessel who was being attacked by Buffalo enforcer John Scott. Scott is 2.07m and Kessel is 25cm shorter.
‘‘Clarkson has been automatically suspended for 10 regular-season games, without pay, as a result of being assessed a game misconduct penalty for leaving the bench,’’ the league said.
The incident took place halfway through the third period and featured 11 skaters and the two goaltenders fighting. Scott, who was standing beside Kessel as the puck was being dropped for the faceoff, immediately went after the Toronto forward who backed away and took a couple of swings with his stick at Scott. Both Clarkson and Kessel were given match penalties.
‘‘I would have gone after whoever they put next to me,’’ Scott told reporters after the game. ‘‘I wasn’t going to try to hurt him. I was just going to send a message.’’
Toronto players rushed to defend their teammate, including the 29-year-old Clarkson who was the only player from both teams to leave the players’ bench. But before Clarkson could reach Scott, Leafs’ forward Carter Ashton had already tied the tough guy up. The line brawl lasted for several minutes before the on-ice officials were able to restore order.
The most spirited and final scrap of the line brawl featured Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier going toe-to-toe with Sabres netminder Ryan Miller. Bernier got the best of Miller as the players on the ice formed a semi-circle and watched the goalies trade punches.
The Sabres were upset about an earlier fight in the game where Toronto’s Jamie Devance knocked the helmet off Sabres Corey Tropp and then delivered an MMAtype elbow to the face after they had fallen to the ice with Devance on top. Tropp was injured when he hit the back of his head on the ice as he went down.
‘‘I think the last punch, driving [Tropp’s] head into the ice, I don’t think that was needed,’’ Scott said.
Also, the league handed down a suspension to Zack Kassian of Vancouver Canucks on Monday.
Zack Kassian was banned for five regular season games for a high stick to the face of Sam Gagner that broke the Edmonton Oilers’ jaw on Saturday.
The force of the blow was enough to also knock out several teeth. Kassian was given a double minor for high sticking on the play.