Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri hit an off-ice official in the face when he slammed his stick out of frustration with a penalty call.
Late in a 1-1 tie, Kadri delivered a hard check along the end boards. Florida’s Mike Matheson, coming in from behind, hit Kadri. The Toronto center took exception to the contact, cross-checking Matheson in retaliation.
Only one penalty was called. As usual, it came for the retaliation. As Kadri skated to the box, protesting the call, he slammed his stick. The butt end caught the penalty box attendant in the face; the official appeared unininjured but was incensed by the stickwork.
“I feel terrible about it,” Kadri said about the incident. “Obviously, it’s an emotional game and I kind of got out of control.”
“I didn’t even realize I hit him until I saw the replay afterwards,” said Kadri. “I must’ve apologized to him a thousand times in the penalty box and hopefully he forgave me. Like I said, it’s an emotional game. I’ve tried reaching out to him and I’m going to send him something just to solidify my apology. I’m sincere about that. I lost control and that won’t happen again.”
No additional penalties were handed out on the play.
“It was stupid, there’s no question about it,” Kadri added. “After you come to your thoughts in the penalty box, you start to think about how irrational it was and there’s no excuse for it. Were there a couple of incidences that happened beforehand that led to me acting that way? Sure, but I’ve still got to keep my composure.”
While the league will review the situation, we’re not expecting any supplemental discipline to be handed out.
This wasn’t the only stick-on-ref incident in the game. An errant flying stick also caught referee Tim Peel in the helmet earlier in the period.
The Florida Panthers went on to win the game 2-1 in a shootout. Referees were Jean Hebert (#15) and Tim Peel (#20), with linesmen Pierre Racicot (#65) and James Tobias (#61).