The NHL suspended Kings forward Brendan Lemieux five games without pay for biting the bare left hand of Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk “with a substantial amount of force” during a tussle Saturday and causing Tkachuk’s hand to bleed, the league’s Department of Player Safety announced Tuesday.
The DPS said it did not have sufficient video evidence to additionally consider punishing Lemieux for inflicting a bloody cut on Tkachuk’s other hand, as Tkachuk contended had happened after their fight.
“This is not a hockey play,” the DPS said. “This is a player delivering a forceful, intentional and potentially dangerous bite to the hand of another player with sufficient force to puncture the skin.”
Based on his average annual salary Lemieux will forfeit $38,750.00. The money will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Lemieux, who has been suspended twice and fined once for various infractions during his NHL career, had argued during a hearing with NHL disciplinarians that Tkachuk’s injury occurred when the Ottawa player punched Lemieux in the mouth. The DPS rejected that argument.
“The video shows an evident biting motion by Lemieux onto Tkachuk’s hand consistent with the puncture marks that were identified post game,” the DPS said. Reports from the on-ice officials and Ottawa’s medical staff also supported the conclusion that Tkachuk had been bitten.
Lemieux, 25, is the son of Claude Lemieux, who was considered a borderline dirty player and accumulated 1,777 penalty minutes in 1,215 NHL games. Brendan Lemieux has four goals, five points and 32 penalty minutes in 14 games with the Kings this season.
While playing for the Montreal Canadiens, Claude Lemieux bit the finger of Calgary forward Jim Peplinski during the 1986 Stanley Cup Final but was not penalized. "I didn't know they allowed cannibalism in the NHL," said Peplinski, who got a tetanus shot to prevent possible infection.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.