The San Jose Sharks will kick off the 2019-20 season with a home-and-home against the rival Vegas Golden Knights.
They’ll just have to do it without Evander Kane.
Kane has been suspended three games for abuse of officials after an incident during Sunday’s preseason finale between the Sharks and Knights.
Kane and Vegas blueliner Deryk Engelland were battling hard midway through the third period. Kane hit Engelland into the boards between the benches, with the Golden Knights defenseman grabbing on to his opponent’s stick in an attempt to draw a penalty. Linesman Kiel Murchison jumped in to separate the two. That break was short-lived, as Kane and Engelland re-engaged, with Engelland cross-checking Kane in the side. Kane returned fire with a slash that appeared to catch Murchison in the leg. As play went on Murchison stepped in to keep them separated, taking Kane down in the process. Kane, back on his feet, attempted to wrestle free from the official, giving him a shove. Kane was immediately sent off by referee Steve Kozari.
“I was just skating up the ice, whistle went, minding my own business and next thing you know I get driven into the ice by one of the officials, for doing nothing,” said Kane. “I wasn’t even engaged with one of their players. Explain that to me, how I get kicked out of the game for that? Baffling.”
Kane’s misconduct fell under rule 40, which covers physical abuse of officials.
40.1 Game Misconduct – Any player who deliberately applies physical force in any manner against an official, in any manner attempts to injure an official, physically demeans, or deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall receive a game misconduct penalty.
“I get kicked out of the game for getting jumped from behind by the referee,” Kane said. “I’ve never seen a ref take five strides. If you look at his face he’s getting all his power and he’s trying to drive me into the ice, which is what he did. That’s unbelievable. Talk about abuse of an official? How about abuse of a player? It’s an absolute joke.”
He also picked up an automatic three-game suspension.
40.4 Automatic Suspension – Category III – Any player who, by his actions, physically demeans an official or physically threatens an official by (but not limited to) throwing a stick or any other piece of equipment or object at or in the general direction of an official, shooting the puck at or in the general direction of an official, spitting at or in the general direction of an official, or who deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall be suspended for not less than three (3) games.
Based on the league’s decision, they opted for the lesser Category III infraction which calls for a minimum three-game suspension.
The more severe charge – a 10 game ban under Category II – would apply to any player “deliberately applying physical force without intent to injure an official.” It’s apparent that NHL Hockey Ops and the officials felt that Kane’s violation failed to rise to that level of severity.
There is an automatic 10-game suspension for abuse of an official — only adjustable by the commissioner and not DOPS — that meets the standards of the Kane incident. The NHL has progressively taken the teeth right out of it.
— Paul Stewart (@PaulStewart22) October 1, 2019
The last 10-game suspension for Abuse of Officials came to Antoine Vermette, then with the Anaheim Ducks, for slashing linesman Shandor Alphonso.
Vermette appealed the decision, which was upheld by Commissioner Gary Bettman.
No word on whether Kane plans to appeal the ruling. Per the NHL rulebook, Bettman has until two games into Kane’s suspension until he’s required to render a decision. Per 40.5:
“…a hearing will be conducted by the Commissioner on an expedited basis, and best efforts will be used to provide a hearing before the second game missed by the player due to the automatic suspension imposed under this rule. The player’s suspension shall continue pending the outcome of the hearing…”
That likely leaves Kane on the sidelines for the Sharks’ season-opening back-to-back games against the Golden Knights.
As a result of the suspension, Kane forfeits $112,903.23 in salary.