Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin suspended one game by NHL for punch

Detroit News

Detroit — Dylan Larkin and the Red Wings knew a suspension was likely coming.

The NHL Department of Player Safety suspended Larkin one game Friday for his punch of Mathieu Joseph of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

Larkin may not have been able to play Saturday, regardless.

Coach Jeff Blashill said Larkin was scheduled to see specialists for an unspecified injury, likely occurring when Larkin was checked into the boards by Joseph, preceding the punch.

Larkin was hit from behind by Joseph in the second period of the Wings’ 7-6 overtime loss at Little Caesars Arena. Larkin got up and sucker-punched Joseph to the side of his head. Joseph was assessed a roughing minor for his hit, while Larkin was given a match penalty for what officials deemed a deliberate attempt to injure.

Blashill adamantly supported Larkin on Friday.

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Larkin’s season ended prematurely in 2020-21 when Dallas’ Jamie Benn crosschecked him in the neck after a faceoff. Larkin missed the final few weeks of the season, and went through a long rehab in the summer.

“Larks spent eight weeks in a cervical collar and there was no penalty on that play (Benn’s crosscheck). Things happen fast and there was no suspension. So if you’re Dylan Larkin, or us, it kind of sets the standard a little bit of that’s not worthy of it,” Blashill said. “We have to make sure we police ourselves a little bit. That’s partially what would go through his head.

“Fast forward to (Thursday’s game) and you have a player (Joseph) who is playing up the lineup for the first time and kind took a run on Lucas Raymond on the other side. He comes back over and, (the hit is) right in the numbers and Larks has his head going into the glass. At that point there’s no penalty called again and he (Larkin) gets up and he’s thinking that we have to police ourselves out here.

“Larks would tell you he’d like to have that back, what he was trying to do was get his attention to fight him. But personally, we’d like to be in a position where it’s just a penalty on the original hit and then I don’t know if anything happens.

“I feel bad for Larks that he’s got to take that punishment and then he feels the need on a regular basis to kind of defend himself.”

Match penalties bring an automatic hearing with the NHL. Larkin was ejected following his punch.

Forward Robby Fabbri, after watching replays of the hit, felt Larkin was justified to retaliate.

“I didn’t like the hit at all,” Fabbri said. “Kind of saw his (Larkin’s) numbers the whole way. After what Larks has been through the last three months with his injury, it wasn’t nice to see. I’m not surprised with the way he reacted.”

Certain opponents over the last several years have appeared, at times, to play physically against the Wings. If that continues this season, the Wings might alter their lineup.

“I guess if it goes on, we have to get people in here to make sure we’re protecting them,” Blashill said.

Twitter: @tkulfan

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