Garnet Hathaway has been suspended for three games for spitting on Anaheim Ducks forward Erik Gudbranson, the NHL announced Wednesday. Hathaway will forfeit $24,193.53 of his salary as part of the suspension. He will not be eligible to play again until Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving, when the Capitals host the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Hathaway is in his first season with the Caps after signing a four-year deal in the offseason. He has two goals and five assists in 23 games putting him on pace for easily the best season of his career as his previous career-high in points is 19. He was signed to bring some added grit to the lineup and the returns were very good, Monday's events notwithstanding.
The incident happened at the end of the second period of Monday's game between the Caps and Ducks. A brawl broke out in which Hathaway was in the middle of. As the linesman tried to keep Hathaway and Gudbranson separated, Gudbranson continued connecting punches until Hathaway retaliated.
"The refs were trying to break it up and it felt like there was a couple sucker punches thrown," Hathaway said after the game, "And I got there one quick and then reacted a little emotionally and unfortunately spit came out of my mouth after I got sucker punched and it went on to him."
"It has no place," he added. "It was an emotional play by me. You don't plan any of that stuff in your head and it was a quick reaction and unfortunately the wrong one for me to a sucker punch."
That wrong decision now puts the Caps in a salary cap bind.
Hathaway's salary remains on the cap while he is suspended giving a Caps team already dealing with little cap room even tighter against the ceiling. That is bad news considering the number of injuries the team is dealing with.
Nicklas Backstrom is out of Wednesday's game, Carl Hagelin was placed on LTIR and Nic Dowd on IR earlier Wednesday. All three are day-to-day with upper-body injuries. By placing Hagelin on LTIR, it frees some cap space for the team to work with, The Caps recalled Beck Malenstyn, who will make his NHL debut Wednesday, as well as Mike Sgarbossa, Tyler Lewington and Ilya Samsonov.
Samsonov comes in to backup Holtby, Lewington comes in as a No. 7, but once again the Caps will carry the bare minimum of 12 healthy forwards on the roster until Backstrom, Dowd or Hagelin return from injury or Hathaway returns from suspension.
What should not be lost in this is that this is just November. The team is banking virtually no cap space with all these injuries and corresponding moves meaning the cap situation is not likely to get better any time soon.
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