According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Milan Lucic will have a phone hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety for the sequence that went down with Mathieu Joseph at the end of last night’s game in Tampa.
In case you missed it or you don’t remember what I’m talking about, Milan Lucic went into shark mode at the end of last night’s game, stalking Mathieu Joseph into the corner and levelling him with a huge hit (read: interference) and then following it up by crumpling him up into a little ball that could fit in his pocket. Personally, I can’t think of many things more terrifying than an angry Milan Lucic trying to punch to punch a hole in your skull, and I imagine that Joseph’s life flashed before his eyes for a minute there, but is that worth a suspension?
Here’s another look:
Milan Lucic tracks down Mathieu Joseph after he hit Kris Russell from behind and almost starts a line brawl pic.twitter.com/9x5CDQHsfG
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) November 7, 2018
At first look, this obviously doesn’t look great for Lucic considering the incident had nothing to do with the play, but there’s also some context missing here as well. Earlier in the game, Joseph took a healthy run at Kris Russell, connecting firmly from behind and clearly injuring the Oilers defenceman. The play went uncalled despite the refs staring right at it and that lit the spark. Had it not been for Kris Russell’s alleged dead nerve endings and inability to feel any pain whatsoever then the hit could have been a whole lot worse. So with the game out of reach and the refs unwilling to do their job, Lucic took it upon himself to go out and get a little prison justice. In his mind, Joseph crossed a line and now it was time to cough up his lunch money.
By my eye, and I’ll definitely admit that I’m biased here, the fact that Lucic has to have a phone hearing with the NHL about this play is a little much. Yes, the hit was late and the dusting of fist kisses that followed probably made Joseph squeeze out a fear turd, but I don’t really see anything here that merits a suspension outside of the fact that this was a planned act by Lucic. If the NHL is going to get mad at Looch for having absolutely no interest in the play and using his ice time to go out and put the fear of Gord into Mathieu Joseph then I definitely understand that, but let’s not pretend that this was the worst thing we’ve ever seen either. No one got hurt on the play and Joseph was spotted laughing on the bench after the whole thing went down and that should be taken into account as well. My point is, this isn’t some kind of Tom Wilson scenario or reoccurring incident. This was more like a free lesson for a rookie that he can’t be running around without consequences. Had the refs done their job then Milan wouldn’t have had to.
The interesting thing, to me, were the reactions that came out after the game. I saw some people going so far as to compare Lucic to Todd Bertuzzi which could be the greatest bit of overreacting that I’ve seen in a while, and it will be fun to follow up with those folks when Milan only gets a single game or something. Personally, and feel free to correct me in the comments section, but I don’t know how you can compare ending a guy’s career to giving a rookie a few shots after a clearly dirty hit. The bigger point here is that if the refs had actually done their job and stopped players like Joseph from running around then Lucic wouldn’t have had to put his sheriff’s hat on in the first place. I like the idea of the boys sticking up for each other when it’s needed and I was happy to see the big man handle his business. Could he have been a bit more subtle about his approach? Sure, but time was running out and there were lessons to be handed out.
Regardless of which side of the play you’re on, the interesting part will be to see what the NHL says about Lucic’s trash compacting antics but since it’s only a phone review I can’t imagine it’ll be more than a game or two. Even that, at least to me, is too much given the situation. Am I wrong? It’s happened plenty of times before and I’m curious to know what you guys think. Hit me up in the comments.
LUCIC’S SEASON SO FAR
Source: Darren Dreger, Verified Twitter Account, 11/07/2018 – 8:12 am MT