THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — Mikhail Grabovski of the Toronto Maple Leafs has received an automatic three-game suspension for shoving an official.
The incident occurred during Thursday’s game in Montreal, when the Maple Leafs winger pushed linesman Scott Cherrey at the end of a melee in the third period.
Grabovski and Habs forward Sergei Kostitsyn were trying to get at one another when the incident occurred, putting the Leafs player in violation of rule 41.4 – category III.
The rule states: "Any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation shall be suspended for not less than three games."
Grabovski’s suspension starts immediately. He’ll be eligible to return on Jan. 16 in Atlanta.
The grudge between Grabovski and Kostitsyn, former friends and fellow natives of Belarus, runs deep. The two were also at each other the last time the teams met.
Grabovski said that he wouldn’t mind challenging Kostitsyn where there are no officials in sight.
“I think he is not Belarussian now, he is French because I never fight with Belarussian guys,” Grabovski said. “I don’t know why he wants to fight with me. If he wants to fight, we’ll go in the street and every minute of every day I’ll wait for him and we’ll fight.”
Grabovski, who was born in Potsdam in the former East Germany but raised in Belarus, wouldn’t get into details of why there is such bad blood between the two. But the Canadiens winger explained the reasons for the feud.
“He talks too much in the Russian papers about me and my brother,” Kostitsyn said of his elder brother and teammate Andrei.
But Grabovski noted he only has a problem with the younger of the two brothers.
“He’s not smart, because the older Kostitsyn, Andrei, he never fights with me and he never will fight because he plays hockey, he plays the game,” he said. “I think it’s stupid.”
The last time the Canadiens and Leafs met at the Air Canada Centre on Nov. 8, a game where Grabovski had a goal and an assist and also got away with a butt end on Habs goalie Carey Price, the younger Kostitsyn charged at him and drew a 10-minute misconduct at 17:01 of the third period in a 6-3 Toronto blowout.
Grabovski was not a favourite of Habs coach Guy Carbonneau while he played in Montreal and when asked about him, the coach shrugged and said, “I didn’t have much to say about him when he was here and I don’t have any more to say about him now.”
Grabovski didn’t appear to show much regret for the incident with Kostitsyn, but he did admit he lost his head when he waved his arms and gestured to the sellout crowd of 21,273.