Breathe easy, Toronto Maple Leafs fans: Mikhail Grabovski has been exonerated of his alleged biting.
The NHL Department of Player Safety deemed that there was no evidence of Grabovski biting Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty, despite Pacioretty’s pleas during Saturday night’s game. After watching video of the scrum, the league stated that they could not determine conclusively if anything happened and therefore could not rule against Grabovski.
The alleged incident occurred nearly halfway through the third period, when the Canadiens were already down 5-0 and desperately trying to score at least one goal. A pileup along the boards involved Pacioretty, Grabovski, and Brandon Prust, and it ended with Pacioretty and Grabovski each getting a 10-minute game misconduct. When asked for his thoughts on the incident, Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said “I’ve been fined once in my life for criticizing officials and they’re not getting any more of my money.”
This isn’t the first time this season that there have been allegations of biting. Chris Stewart accused Derek Dorsett of biting him as they fought during the St. Louis Blues’ game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 31. And who can forget that most famous biting incident involving Alex Burrows and Patrice Bergeron in Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals? Like this incident in Montreal, no supplemental discipline came as a result of those other times, although several Boston Bruins players did retaliate later on in the finals.
It’s safe to say that this will be on each team’s mind when they meet again on February 27 in Toronto. Maybe cooler heads will prevail by then, and any retaliation will come in short order so both teams can move on to the game at hand.