Antoine Vermette will return to the Ducks’ lineup tonight after serving a 10-game suspension for abuse of officials.
Vermette’s penalty and subsequent suspension came after he tapped linesman Shandor Alphonso with his stick following a faceoff that was blown dead. The suspension was out of character for Vermette, who has never been suspended and only received one major penalty in his 12-year NHL career.
“Of course you can’t do that,” Vermette said. “I accept this responsibility. I shouldn’t do that. My intention probably looks a lot more awkward on the video. [I was trying] to get his attention even though it’s a bad idea to address it at that stage.”
Vermette was suspended under Rule 40.3, which requires a mandatory 10-game suspension:
“Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any matter (excluding actions as set out in Category I), which physical force is applied without intent to injure, or who spits on an official”
Commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the suspension upon appeal.
The OC Register’s Eric Stephens reported that commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL players’ union may have reached an agreement to cut Vermette’s suspension to five games, but that the potential reduction received opposition from the NHL Officials Association. Ultimately, Bettman stood by the officials and held the ban at ten games.
Vermette released a statement on his suspension:
Statement from Antoine Vermette regarding Bettman review of 10 game suspension —> pic.twitter.com/wEGbBSTvSj
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) February 26, 2017
Vermette was apologetic after the game. The veteran reached out to the linesman to discuss the penalty.
“The first opportunity I had to call him, I reached out to him to apologize and talk,” Vermette said. “And actually I talked to him for a long time in New York. He’s a nice guy. I got that feeling when I reached out over the phone and actually personally talked to him for a long time. He’s a good guy.”
Vermette has forfeited $97,222 in salary as a result of the suspension.
You can be sure he’ll be on his best behavior when the officials drop the puck for tonight’s game.