Winnipeg’s Mathieu Perreault all but guaranteed that’ll be the case, as the veteran winger was furious after the two clubs’ Tuesday-night tilt saw him receive a stiff elbow from Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen away from the play — an incident that went unpunished by the league’s Department of Player Safety.
“Player safety my (expletive) — like, this is literally an elbow to the face to a guy that didn’t have the puck,” Perreault said to reporters Thursday. “I see him coming, I brace for the hit — it was a late hit, I didn’t have the puck, and he flicks his elbow to my face.
“And they’re not going to do anything about it. So I’ve got to take matters into my own hands next time this happens, and I get to swing my stick across his forehead. And I shouldn’t get suspended then.”
“I don’t really know what to say. Like, I can’t really protect myself there, if the League’s not going to protect me,” Perreault continued. “I’m the smallest guy on the ice, so I can’t really fight anybody, so the only thing I can really do to defend myself is use my stick.
“So the next guy that does that to me is going to get my (expletive) stick. And I better not get suspended for it.”
The 32-year-old has 12 points to his name through 41 games so far this season, along with just eight penalty minutes over that span. Canucks winger Virtanen has 25 points through 47 games along with 24 total penalty minutes thus far in 2019-20.
Virtanen responded to Perreault’s comments after the Canucks’ 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes later Thursday.
“I think it’s just frustration. He’s a good player. I have nothing bad to say about him. I wasn’t trying to just go out and murder a guy,” he said.
“It could have been a lot worse if I really hit him. He’s a good player. I honestly didn’t even mean to do that. It is what it is. He can be frustrated. I mean, I think anyone would kind of be frustrated at that point.”
Jets head coach Paul Maurice weighed in on the incident Thursday as well.
“Just disappointed,” Maurice told reporters when asked if he was surprised by the lack of subsequent discipline for Virtanen. “… Some of these are hard to figure out, the timing of it, players turn at the end. You hear them say, ‘The game happens fast.’ It happens so fast out there. I thought (the Virtanen hit) was a decision.”
The issue is exacerbated for Perreault as well, given the winger’s concussion history.
“He’s sensitive to it, and rightfully so,” Maurice said. “But even if you hadn’t had a head injury, that’s not right.”
With files from Sportsnet’s Iain MacIntyre.