Los Angeles Kings forward Brendan Lemieux has been suspended for five games for biting Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk.
The incident took place at 13:51 of the third period when the two teams met on Saturday, November 27. Lemieux was given a match penalty for intent to injure.
“This guy, you can ask any one of his teammates, nobody ever wants to play with him,” Tkachuk said after the game. “It’s outrageous. Kids don’t even do that anymore. Babies do that. I don’t even know what he was thinking, he’s just a complete brick head. He’s got nothing up there. Bad guy, bad player, but what a joke he is.”
From the NHL’s Department of Player Safety:
The two grab a hold of each other, wrestling briefly before Tkachuk takes Lemieux down to the ice. While on the ice, Lemieux, feeling Tkachuk’s hands on his face as they wrestle, bites Tkachuk on his bare left hand and does so with a substantial amount of force. The two continue wrestling and throwing punches as the linesmen attempt to separate them. As the two are being separated, Tkachuk – while still on the ice – immediately informs the officials that Lemieux bit him as he examines his own hands, showing the officials that he is bleeding. Tkachuk regains his feet with cuts on both hands and both players are escorted to the penalty box.
While circumstantial evidence supports the argument that Lemieux may have bitten Tkachuk multiple times during this fight, we are limiting our review of this incident to the bite that occurs almost immediately after the players fall to the ice. This bite is to the left hand of Tkachuk. Due to a lack of evidence this decision does not include an analysis of how Tkachuk ended up bleeding from his right hand.
Once the players hit the ice, Tkachuk’s bare left hand moves up around the mouth of Lemieux. Lemieux responds by biting down on the back of Tkachuk’s hand with force. We have heard Lemieux’s argument that the puncture may have been caused in this moment by Tkachuk punching him on the tooth with force sufficient to cause a puncture wound.
The video evidence does not support this version of events. The video shows evidence of a biting motion by Lemieux on to Tkachuk’s hand consistent with the puncture marks that were identified post game. This conclusion is sufficiently supported by video evidence but is further supported by the officials’ report as well as medical information submitted by the Senators training staff.
This is not a hockey play. This is a player delivering a forceful, intentional, and potentially dangerous bite to the bare hand of another player with sufficient force to puncture the skin. Such actions will not be tolerated.
Lemieux has a history with Player Safety. He’s been suspended twice – once in 2018 for an illegal check to the head of Vincent Trocheck, and again in 2020 for a late hit on Joonas Donskoi. He’s also been fined $2,000 for elbowing.
The Kings winger is also following in his father’s footsteps. The elder Lemieux, Claude, was accused of biting an Calgary’s Jim Peplinski in 1986.
“I didn’t know they allowed cannibalism in the NHL,” quipped Peplinski,
This is just the fourth biting suspension in NHL history. At five games, it is also the longest.
Lemieux will forfeit $38,750 in salary as a result of the suspension.