The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Sunday that Los Angeles Kings forward Milan Lucic will have a hearing for a sucker punch on Arizona Coyotes defenseman Kevin Connauton in Saturday’s loss to Arizona.
On the play, Lucic took a slash from Connauton in front of the Arizona net during a scrum. Lucic reacted by charging after Connauton following the play being blown dead. He slash Connauton in the back of the leg then punched him in the side of the head, putting Connauton down on the ice.
After he hit Connauton and Connauton went down there was an immediate call. Lucic was ejected from the game. However, he didn’t go quietly. He was restrained by a linesman as he was giving the ref the business about the slash from Connauton.
X-rays on Lucic’s wrist came back negative, according to LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen. Lucic wasn’t deterred though. He had words about referee Brad Meier after the game.
“I mean, if I don’t react, I don’t think he even calls a penalty,” Lucic told Rosen. “Same guy – Brad Meier. I think this is the fourth time he’s kicked me out of a game. It’s always the same thing with him. … Guys can take liberties on me and it’s not a penalty. If I do something, then I’m automatically kicked out of the game. It’s just unfortunate that it is that way with him, and I’ve just got to move on and not get frustrated by the referees in the game.”
That may be the case, but Connauton did get two minutes for slashing Lucic and a sucker punch like that doesn’t seem to be too little to garner a game misconduct. The league appears to agree, since they’ve scheduled a hearing for Sunday. There’s also a chance that Lucic could see disciplinary action for his words about Meier, but that would come from the hockey operations department and not the Department of Player Safety.
Fines for comments about refs like this aren’t uncommon. Brandon Prust was fined for comments like that last season and Alexandre Burrows was fined in 2010 for the same.
Lucic has been suspended twice before in his career.
Watch the play here:
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.