SAN JOSE – Sharks center Tomas Hertl said Tuesday he was surprised to receive a two-game suspension from the NHL for high-sticking Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm two days earlier, feeling he might get a lighter punishment considering he had no prior history of supplemental discipline.
Hertl will miss Tuesday’s rematch with the Flames at SAP Center and Thursday’s home game with the Minnesota Wild, the Sharks’ last game before a four-day Christmas break.
Hertl, who has to forfeit $87,972.98, will return on Dec. 27 when the Sharks play the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.
“It sucks I got two because (I can’t play) for the next eight days,” Hertl said. “I don’t like being out for that long. It’s my mistake. I did it. I know the league has to protect the players but I thought a fine or maybe one game if anything because I have no history.”
“Obviously, (Hertl) made a mistake,” Sharks captain Logan Couture said. “One game I think was sufficient, but (the league) saw it otherwise. That’s their job and they make those decisions.
“Not everyone’s going to like them and we certainly don’t. But he still obviously did it and he’s remorseful about it. I think two games is probably a little much but it is what it is.”
After the opening faceoff of the third period Sunday, Hertl was cross-checked multiple times in the right arm and shoulder by Lindholm before he retaliated, swinging his stick and catching the Flames veteran near his face.
“It was my stick and I shouldn’t react but sometimes it happens. It’s so quick,” Hertl said. “I just say I’m going to brace myself because I got two cross-checks. For sure, I don’t mean to go higher. I meant to go low.
“After the faceoff, I wasn’t holding my stick properly. It’s just on me. Nobody here can do anything and I’m more mad because I can’t help the boys for the next two games.”
Hertl thought the one-game suspension that Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov received in October for his high stick on Vancouver’s Kyle Burroughs was a possible comparable. In levying the Kuznetsov suspension, the NHL explained that it was “an intentional stick swing toward an opponent that (made) high contact.”
But in explaining Hertl’s two-game ban, the NHL, while noting he had never before been fined or suspended, said his action was “a directed retaliatory stick swing that strikes an opponent at a dangerous height.”
Hertl speculated that because of other high-sticking incidents around the league, perhaps the NHL wanted to dole out a stiffer punishment this time to help set an example.
Toronto’s Pierre Engvall was given a one-game suspension for a high stick on Los Angeles’ Sean Durzi earlier this month. But in October, Detroit’s Michael Rasmussen was suspended for two games for high-sticking Boston’s David Krejci, and last month, Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk was suspended for two games for high-sticking Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick.
“I don’t know,” Hertl said. “For sure I’m frustrated because I’m missing the games but at the same time, I did it. It’s on me.”
Lindholm did not miss any ice time from the high-stick. After Hertl was penalized six seconds into the third period, Lindblom scored two goals in 19 seconds to give the Flames a 4-1 lead. Hertl scored a power-play goal later in the third period, but the Sharks lost the game 5-2.
“I’m more (upset) because he scored two goals in 20 seconds, so it’s not like he had to get to the locker room to check it out,” Hertl said of Lindholm. “He never left the ice or anything. I don’t think I (got) him all the way to the face.”
For at least the start of Tuesday’s game, the Sharks will have Couture on a line with Matt Nieto and Alexander Barabanov, and move Nick Bonino onto the line with Timo Meier and Kevin Labanc. Nico Sturm and Steven Lorentz will center the third and fourth lines, respectively.
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