Sat Dec 31 11:39pm EST
Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban and Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson were both given double-minor penalties for slashing and roughing. But Krys Barch of the Panthers, rather inexplicably at the time, was given a game misconduct.
The eventual explanation was shocking: According to George Richards of the Miami Herald, Barch was ejected after linesman Darren Gibbs overheard him using a racial slur towards Subban.
The report was supported by the Sun-Sentinel, which reported that "a linesman overheard Barch uttering a teasing-type slur toward Montreal's P.K. Subban, a native black Canadian."
Said coach Kevin Dinnen: "We have a broken up player back there. He feels extremely bad that there was an insinuation that something inappropriate was said. Now it's a league matter. Obviously the Florida Panthers and Krys Barch are really shaken up about this.''
Subban told the Montreal media that he didn't hear a slur and that no one else on his team did either. Erik Cole added that he heard something but wasn't sure what. To paraphrase, he said it could have been something related to Subban's parents.
The matter will likely be taken up by the NHL, which has had suspensions for racial slurs in the past (though not recently). This is the second racially-charged incident of the season, as Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds had a banana thrown at him by a spectator during an exhibition game in London, Ont. in September.
Barch's agent, Scott Norton, was quick to publicly defend his client hours after the news hit:
Was it something the linesman overheard incorrectly, or something Barch uttered in the heat of battle that he instantly regrets? If it's the latter can the NHL even take further action without Subban or the Canadiens backing up the claim?