Typically, when the NHL doles out discipline to its multifarious wrongdoers, many are left scratching their heads at the inconsistency of the rulings. There's always a player that did something very similar, and received a punishment very different.
But you have to hand it to the league. When it comes to biting, they've been incredibly consistent over the past few years. They never do anything.
That in mind, it should come as no surprise that the NHL has decided not to discipline Toronto Maple Leafs' centre Mikhail Grabovski for his alleged bite to Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens due to inconclusive evidence. From the NHL:
Following a telephone hearing conducted this morning, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety has decided not to assess Supplemental Discipline to Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski for an incident that occurred during NHL Game No. 160 Saturday night in Montreal.
After interviewing both players involved in the incident and reviewing all of the available video and medical reports, the League could not determine conclusively that Grabovski bit Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty.
The Department of Player Safety has concluded that there was not sufficient evidence to support imposing Supplemental Discipline.
The medical reports, if you're wondering, were the pictures of Pacioretty's bitten thumb and wrist that the Canadiens sent to the league, as well as, most likely, evidence of the antibiotics and tetanus shot that Pacioretty received afterward. Clearly, the only aspect of the incident for which Pacioretty felt there was "not sufficient evidence" was the question of whether or not Grabovski had rabies.
Pacioretty is probably disappointed, but he's been robbed of justice in much worse cases.
I'm disappointed too, albeit mainly because I wanted to see Brendan Shanahan break down a bite in a suspension video. Maybe one day. I'm not surprised, and Habs fans shouldn't be either. They weren't winning anything that happened Saturday night.
Plus, they and all hockey-lovers will remember this copout from the Alex Burrows bite on Patrice Bergeron in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs. Nevermind that Grabovski's bite, like Burrows's bite, was pretty bloody clear to anyone not wearing fan goggles -- emphasis on bloody, since both bites drew some -- it wasn't 100% clear.
Here's another look at what the NHL couldn't fully verify that they saw:
But don't lament that justice wasn't served. Celebrate that you no longer have to endure Leafs fans defending the incident as though it didn't happen (it did, otherwise the NHL wouldn't have bothered with a hearing); Pacioretty did it to himself (he didn't); it was an act of self-defence, because Grabovski was suffocating (he wasn't); and it was justified since Pacioretty shouldn't have stuck his forearm in Grabovski's mouth (unlike a finger, you can't fit a forearm into a mouth, except in the most gruesome corridors of the Internet).
None of it matters anymore, because it didn't warrant discipline. It's like it never happened!
The question is, will Grabovski come back to bite the NHL?
That's not to suggest that Grabbo will just start feeling invincible and biting everyone, willy-nilly. But with two biting allegations in the last two weeks, plus that high-profile one from the Stanley Cup Final, and absolutely zero disciplinary action taken in any of these cases, one wonders if we'll begin to see more people get bitten in scrums, where the NHL is incapable of seeing anything with enough clarity to prosecute.
It wouldn't be all that surprising. I can't say for sure, because the evidence is not sufficient, but it would appear that it's basically the perfect crime.
- Ice Hockey
- Sports & Recreation
- Mikhail Grabovski
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Max Pacioretty
- Montreal Canadiens