David Clarkson and the Toronto Maple Leafs had not received official notification from the NHL by Monday afternoon that the veteran forward will be assessed an automatic 10-game suspension to start the regular season.
But there is little doubt the penalty will be assessed, as Clarkson left the Leafs bench Sunday night to join a brawl that broke out in the third period of a preseason game at the Air Canada Centre between the Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres. NHL rules call for the suspension of 10 regular-season games when a player leaves the bench or penalty box to join an altercation.
For the second consecutive day, the Leafs refused to make Clarkson available to the media to explain his decision. A team official cited the lack of an official confirmation of the suspension from the league as the reason Clarkson was kept away from reporters after the Leafs’ Monday practice.
The delay may be due to the fact the NHL board of governors held its annual fall meeting on Monday. NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan was at the meeting. He is also expected to look at further discipline for Leafs winger Phil Kessel and Sabres forward John Scott.
The brawl started following a fight between Leafs winger Jamie Devane and Sabres forward Corey Tropp that left Tropp bloodied and dazed. Sabres head coach Ron Rolston responded by sending the 6-foot-8, 270-pound Scott out for the ensuing faceoff.
Kessel said Scott told him he “was going to jump me.” The Leafs player backed up, then responded with a couple of two-handed slashes on Scott. The rest of the players on the ice jumped in and then Clarkson left the bench to take part. At one point, the goaltenders for both teams engaged in a fight.