New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller has been suspended three games for spitting on Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.
The incident took place in the first period of Sunday’s game as the Rangers hosted the Kings. Miller shoved Kings forward Kevin Fiala after play was stopped due to an offside. The Kings’ D-pairing of Doughty and Mikey Anderson objected to the shove and moved in on Miller.
The Rangers defenseman spit, hitting Doughty in the face.
“I was just shocked, obviously,” Doughty said, as reported in The Athletic. “I don’t even know if I said anything to him after, but I just immediately went to the ref to try to get the penalty. You don’t want to see things like that in this game. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. I’m sure it has happened, but not that I’ve seen. It’s unfortunate, and whether or not he meant to do that, I have no idea. But it’s a pretty big loogie on my face, so I was pretty pissed.”
Miller was given a match penalty and ejected from Sunday’s game.
The Blueshirts’ blueliner apologized for the incident.
“I wanted to take a moment to address what occurred in last night’s game. I have all the respect in the world for Drew Doughty and what happene was completely accidental. I would never intend to do something like that on purpose, it goes against everything I am as a person and player. I felt awful about it and I am thankful Drew gave me the opportunity to apologize and explain myself in person after the game.”
As contrite as Miller was – and as unintentional as it may have been – the league took a firm stance with their three-game ban.
The league’s last spitting suspension came in 2019, when Washington Capitals’ forward Garnet Hathaway sat for three games for spitting in an opponent’s face during an altercation, in an incident that seemed far more intentional. Tampa Bay Lightning forward Chris Gratton was also suspended for three games in 1998 for spitting at referee Paul Stewart.
The bar has effectively been set: three games for spitting.
Miller’s three-game suspension is tied for the longest of the 2022-23 season; Washington’s Nicolas Aube-Kubel (illegal check to the head), Seattle’s Jamie Oleksiak (illegal check to the head), and Buffalo’s Jeff Skinner (high-sticking) also picked up three each for dangerous plays that resulted in injuries.
(Doughty was not injured on the play.)
Kneeing, elbowing, and boarding are apparently far less egregious, maxing out at two game bans this season.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has not yet released a video explaining the suspension.
This is Miller’s first incident of supplemental discipline. He forfeits $15,000 in salary as a result of the suspension.