You have to listen to the officials. Detroit Red Wings winger Luke Witkowski learned that the heard way after picking up a ten-game suspension for failure to obey orders.
Witkowski had just scrapped with Calgary’s Brett Kulak and was being escorted off the ice by linesman Scott Driscoll. After exchanging pleasantries with the Flames’ bench, he made a quick about-face and attempted to return to the ice.
A brawl ensued, with the teams combining for 99 penalty minutes during the stoppage and 141 overall during the game.
Witkowski was ejected from the game. He also picked up the automatic ban for a clear violation of rule 70.6:
70.6 Game Misconduct Penalty
Any player who has been ordered to the dressing room by the officials and returns to his bench or to the ice surface for any reason before the appropriate time shall be assessed a game misconduct and shall be suspended automatically without pay for the next ten (10) regular League and/or Play-off games.
“It’s unfortunate,” Witkowski said of his ban. “Honestly, I didn’t know that was a rule. Obviously, I know now. I knew it was a rule you couldn’t jump the boards. It’s kind of a gray area with still being on the bench and the door being open. But lesson learned, I guess. Move on from here.”
Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill disagreed with the rule that requires an automatic suspension.
“I don’t think the punishment fits the crime,” said Blashill, “but the rule doesn’t give [Player Safety] any ability to apply judgment. It’s too bad. I hope there is punishment for starting the thing, which is what their player did.”
Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk awaits a hearing for his role in the brawl.
Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk will have a hearing tomorrow for unsportsmanlike conduct for actions during last night’s game against Detroit.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) November 16, 2017
Witkowski will be eligible to return when the Wings face the Florida Panthers on December 11.