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Evgeni Malkin has hearing with NHL Player Safety over cross-checking incident

The Pens center could be looking at his second career suspension

NHL: Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Department of Player Safety announced today that they have scheduled a hearing with Evgeni Malkin tonight.

Malkin has been suspended one other time in his 977 game career, when he received one game off for a high-sticking incident with then Philadelphia Flyer forward Michael Raffl in February 2019.

Yesterday’s incident with Nashville’s Mark Borowiecki was somewhat similar to the Raffl affair, with an opponent jostling Malkin, and the forward retaliating by slamming his stick into the opposition’s face. This happened after the conclusion of the second period in yesterday’s game.

Malkin was given a four minute double-minor penalty in the course of the game, officials took a video review of the incident but did not change it to a major penalty on the ice. Borowiecki was also penalized two minutes for slashing, but left bloody and did not return to play in the third period or overtime.

Given that his previous suspension happened over two years ago, Malkin is not considered a “repeat offender” by the league for the purposes of salary that will be forfeited. However, that does not mean his history won’t be considered for a potential suspension, as the league also says:

It is important to note that even if a Player is not defined as a repeat offender, his past history may come into consideration when determining future Supplemental Discipline.

It can’t be a positive for Malkin that his last suspension was for a similar infraction of using his stick to violently drive into an opponent’s face. Given NHL history, a doubling of his one-game suspension into two games would be in line with other cases and and perhaps warranted, pending the results of the hearing. The door for even longer than two games could be on the table as well, with the violent nature and result of the cross-check.

A two game suspension would also match what Toronto’s Auston Matthews received after he dished out a similar cross-check to the face of an opponent earlier this season, though Malkin’s previous incidents with high sticks could bring a larger penalty.

Malkin will perhaps explain that Borowiecki was not a victim in this situation, since he started the sequence and took a penalty during it. A known tough customer and physical player, Borowiecki also still was squared up with Malkin and raising his fists to punch Malkin in the face just as Malkin was getting his hands (and stick) up himself. Whether such a position will be accepted by the league remains to be seen, but it probably won’t earn too much sympathy considering the injury that Malkin caused on the play.

Malkin was not offered the virtual “in person” hearing, which would open the door to a potential suspension of over five games, meaning he will not be looking at an extended

The Penguins are back in action tomorrow on the road against the New York Islanders. The league should rule by then whether they will be doing so without one of their star players.