Mikhail Grabovski skated on a supplemental discipline rap Monday because of a lack of evidence he put the bite on Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty.
Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s vice-president of player safety, “could not determine conclusively” the Toronto Maple Leafs centre bit Pacioretty during a melee Saturday night so no suspension or fine were imposed. Grabovski will be in the lineup Monday night when the Leafs play the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre.
Both players were interviewed and Shanahan and his staff pored over the video and medical evidence but were not able to decide if Pacioretty’s claim was true, that Grabovski bit him after he grabbed the Leaf around his mouth from behind.
Grabovski did not make himself available to the media following Monday’s game-day skate at the Air Canada Centre.
After the scuffle, Grabovski was given a 10-minute misconduct and a minor penalty for roughing minor. Pacioretty was handed a 10-minute misconduct.
Ruling or no ruling, the Habs are sticking to their version of events: it was a bite.
Pacioretty said he isn't going to cry about it - "I'm fine, I'm not injured," he said - and that as far as he's concerned, the incident is in the past. But he did say he received a tetanus shot following the incident as a precaution.
When Pacioretty, who said the last time he was bitten "was when my sister was a little baby," complained loudly and showed his wrist to referees Tim Peel and Rob Martell, he didn't get much sympathy, particularly from Peel.
"He was kind of more upset about why I was yelling at him, but it's an emotional game, and any time you're losing 6-0 to the Leafs, it was 5-0 at the time I guess, you're going to be pretty pissed off," he said.
Pacioretty isn't the first alleged biting victim to have his claims waved away by an official.
When the Calgary Flames' Jim Peplinski showed a bloody finger to referee Denis Morel after having his digit chomped by the Habs' Claude Lemieux in the 1986 Stanley Cup final, he didn't exactly find a willing ear.
"He said 'How do I know you didn't do it to youself?'" Peplinski told the Globe in 2011.
While the league may not have conclusively determined Grabovski bit Pacioretty, the former faces an impossible task should he ever feel moved to convince the members of his former team that he didn't.
Several Habs players were still incredulous at the incident.
"Who bites somebody?" said defenceman Josh Gorges. "In every scrum in every game I've ever played, someone is getting face-washed. But guys don't bite other guys."
Monday’s game between the Leafs and the Flyers marks the first meeting with their old teams for the principals of the biggest off-season trade for both teams. The Leafs have initially come out on top on the deal, as former Flyer winger James van Riemsdyk has seven goals and nine points in 12 games with the Leafs. Defenceman Luke Schenn, 23, who was united with his brother Brayden in the one-for-one trade, is a respectable plus-three with two points in 12 games with the Flyers but has struggled at times.
Van Riemsdyk said he had a friendly get-together with a few of his former teammates on Sunday night but has no hard feelings about the trade. He said he realized he would get an opportunity to play more with the Maple Leafs.
“That’s something I knew, that there was an opportunity,” van Riemsdyk, 23, said. “Coming to a new team is a process. Every day, I get a bit more comfortable.”
Monday’s game will see something give in one team’s record. The 7-5 Leafs have a dismal 1-4 record at home while the 5-6-1 Flyers are just as bad on the road at 1-5.