Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nik Antropov has been suspended for three games for throwing his stick in the direction of the referees when he left the penalty box after the Carolina Hurricanes won Thursday night, 3-2, in overtime.
It was the culmination of a difficult night for the Maple Leafs, who were seething about the officiating after the game in Raleigh, N.C.
Antropov was called for hooking Cory Stillman with 2:36 left in overtime, and Rod Brind'Amour scored the winner during the power play. When Antropov departed from the penalty box, he slammed his stick on the ice, then tossed it along the boards, but toward the referees. He was assessed two game misconduct penalties, the second of which was for abuse of an official and carries an automatic three-game suspension.
Antropov, 27, has played in all 53 Leafs games this season and has 41 points (18 goals, 23 assists), second-best on the team behind only captain Mats Sundin.
According to the NHL rulebook, a three-game suspension is levied when "any player or goalkeeper who, by his actions, physically demeans an official or physically threatens an official by [but not limited to] throwing a stick or any other piece of equipment."
NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy confirmed from the league office in Toronto that Antropov would be suspended for three games, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail.
Antropov acknowledged he said something to referee Don Koharski when the hooking penalty was called, but did not clarify what that something was. "I just disagreed with my call and he was, whatever ... I wasn't happy,"
Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice expressed displeasure with some of the other calls, as well. There was a Hurricanes goal he thought should have been waved off because of a high stick. Maple Leafs forward Jason Blake's apparent goal was waved off after a video review. And Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason fell on a puck in the crease, which ordinarily would result in a penalty shot.
"You know, there's a good story here," Maurice told the Toronto media. "It was a high-stick goal, Blake's puck was in the net, Gleason fell in the crease and it was a lousy call on Antropov.
"But that's my judgment. That's the way I feel, that's the way the hockey players feel. That's what the camera looked like to me."