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Dylan Larkin Suspended One Game for Punching Mathieu Joseph

Dylan Larkin has been suspended one game by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for roughing Tampa Bay Lightning’s Mathieu Joseph during the Detroit Red Wings home opener of the 2021-22 season. This was in retaliation for Joseph hitting Larkin from behind during the second period of the Detroit Red Wings game against the Lightning.

Department of Player Safety explains Dylan Larkin suspension

The Department of Player Safety explained the suspension by saying that "Larkin and Joseph race towards a loose puck. Larkin cuts in front of Joseph to establish position. Joseph shoves Larkin, causing him to hit the boards and fall to the ice. Larkin then gets to his feet, finds Joseph, and swings wildly, punching the unsuspecting Joseph in the face with a gloved hand with sufficient force to knock him to the ice. This is roughing."

Larkin received a match penalty for punching Joseph in the jaw. He missed the last eight games of the 2020-21 NHL season after a cross-check to the back of the neck from the Dallas Stars’ Jamie Benn. This hit had to come into Larkin’s mind when he got up from the hit from behind by Joseph.

Head coach Jeff Blashill was quoted after the game saying "I guess we need to bring some people in here to protect them." This was probably said in jest but that is not something that is unforeseen in hockey lore. This comes after an offseason that saw the NHL Department of Player Safety say that they would put a priority on calling slashing penalties during the 2021-22 season. While this is somewhat important, this does not help to protect players who are defenseless when they are hit from behind like the one that Joseph put on Larkin from behind.

The Red Wings would wind up losing the first game of their season to the Lightning in overtime by a score of seven to six but this was not the most important part of last night’s game. The team’s next game is Saturday night against the Vancouver Canucks. Dylan Larkin will have to watch that game from the press box.

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