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Matthew's Cross check, suspension worthy ?

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Toronto Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews to have hearing Monday for cross-checking Buffalo Sabres' Rasmus Dahlin

8:14 PM ET
  • shilton_kristen.png&h=80&w=80&scale=crop
    Kristen ShiltonESPN NHL reporter

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews will have his cross-check against Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, which came during Sunday's Heritage Classic, reviewed by the NHL's department of player safety in a hearing Monday.


The play happened late in the third period of Sunday's outdoor game in Hamilton, Ontario. The Leafs had just gone down 4-2 following a goal by Sabres forward Peyton Krebs that went through a lengthy review by officials. Toronto's bench was visibly frustrated by the decision, and the Leafs went on to lose the game 5-2.


Matthews, who scored his NHL-leading 45th goal of the season early in Sunday's game, was on the ice not long after, and laid his cross-check on Dahlin after Dahlin cross-checked Matthews to the ice in Buffalo's crease. Matthews' stick caught Dahlin in the neck and head area, drawing several players from both sides into a skirmish around Sabres netminder Craig Anderson.

Speaking after the game, Matthews said he hadn't seen the replay yet but didn't intend for his conduct to appear so malicious.


"You're just battling in front of the net," Matthews said. "I felt like I kind of rode up his shoulder and his shoulder pack rolled up a little bit. That's hockey; you're competing out there."


Now in his sixth season, Matthews has never received any prior supplemental discipline from the league.


The outburst was especially uncharacteristic from Matthews, who had collected only 68 penalty minutes in 390 career games entering Sunday and is a two-time finalist for the NHL's Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct.


Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe also hadn't reviewed the play but wasn't surprised to see Matthews physically engaged.


"Auston's a competitor," Keefe said. "And he's competing out there like everyone else."


The bad blood didn't end with Matthews and Dahlin's exchange. With less than two minutes remaining in regulation, Dylan Cozens put a hit on Matthews that drew his linemate Michael Bunting into a scrum with Cozens. The refs had to separate the two, and each got a 10-minute game misconduct that sent them out of the game.

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Oh my, i'll give my .03 


If ever there was a time for the DOP to step up, it's here.


What better way to make a statement by suspending a star player who currently leads the NHL in goals, even if he only gets 1 Game.


Both Keefe and Matthews said all the right things afterward, competitive hockey, heat of the moment yada yada, however in the end the player is responsible for his actions.


Austin is far from a dirty player and his cross check was an obvious reaction/retalliation type of play, however, others players around the league (marchand) make this type of play, they get the ban hammer...


I know lumping matthews in a sentance with marchand is apples/oranges, but you don't become that type of player, until you do.

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Two games.
Sounds about right.

The Sabres and Dahlin in particular, were playing Matthews very well, very physical all game.....and clean too.
Matthews' frustrations seemed to reach a boiling point, understandable, but those cross checks to the head and neck area were simply over the line.

If he DIDN'T get supplementary discipline, then of course, people will be thinking "oh there goes the stars getting special treatment again".

NHL made the right call here. Bottom line.
I've always thought Rasmus Dahlin to be a bit on the "soft" side as a player, but after watching him take it to superstar Matthews, I no longer think so.
He held his own, showed some fire when it came to the between whistle extra curriculars, and really got into Matthews kitchen and well under his skin.

Matthews has every right to 'play angry' and try to establish his dominance, but NOT the way he did it.

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