When the Detroit Red Wings selected forward Givani Smith in the second round, 46th overall, in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, they knew they were getting a tall gritty player that could manage to stand out on any roster.
However, on Tuesday night, Smith stood out for all the wrong reasons. The 20-year-old right winger, who is currently evolving with the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League, could be facing a suspension for abuse of an official after a second period altercation with linesman Dustin McCrank.
This is serious business.
The incident took place when Smith and Sarnia Sting defenseman Kelton Hatcher were involved in a feud in front of the Rangers' bench with just 29 seconds to go before the second intermission, and McCrank tried to break it up.
Smith didn't hit McCrank but violently push the official aside to get at Hatcher. You can see what took place in the video below, which was published on Twitter last night:
Smith was called for cross checking and fighting and nothing for the contact with McCrank while Hatcher was burned for instigating, fighting and received a 10-minute misconduct. A frustrating decision for the Sting, but many believe the league will have to take a look at the incident. Smith could be facing a hefty suspension for his actions.
"I'll leave that to the league," said Rangers head coach Jay McKee to The Record, of his thoughts on any potential punishment. "No abuse of an official penalty was called on the play."
The OHL rules state that an automatic suspension of 10 games minimum is applied to "any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner."
"We were mad on the initial call," said Sarnia coach Derian Hatcher. "A 16 year old is on his knees and he gets cross checked in the face. We watched it on tape and that's what happened. Smith throws the linesman out of the way and we get an instigator."
The Rangers still managed to clinch the Ontario Hockey League's Midwest Division with a 5-2 win over the Sarnia Sting. But now the team has to wait and see if theermotionally charged contest will have other consequences.