Dallas Stars forward Ryan Garbutt will sit three games for his slew-foot on Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien in Tuesday’s game at American Airlines Center.
Garbutt had a hearing Thursday morning with the NHL Department of Player Safety, which announced the three-game suspension a couple hours later.
“I just want to apologize for my actions,” Garbutt said. “I realize that I have to get better, and there are improvements I have to make in my game if I want to play in this league.”
The suspension announcement came just as the Stars were concluding their practice in Frisco. Garbutt and Stars coach Lindy Ruff had a long conversation at the players’ bench at the end of practice. Ruff talked with the media about what he said to Garbutt.
“It’s something I don’t condone. It hurts the team,” Ruff said. “He needs to make a huge commitment to how we need him to play. We’ve seen him when he brings his game. I said, ‘You are in a situation now where you can’t go back down that trail anymore. I know you said you wanted to prove it the last time, but we took a huge step back.’”
This is the fourth time the league has disciplined Garbutt in the past 13 months. There was a five-game suspension early last season for charging Anaheim’s Dustin Penner. There was a fine in last season’s playoffs for spearing Anaheim’s Corey Perry. And just two weeks ago, the NHL suspended Garbutt two games for kneeing Edmonton’s Taylor Hall. Now this latest run in with the league.
“He’s got to stop. He knows he has to change his game,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “The message to Ryan is he is too valuable. We need him on the ice. I understand he plays hard, he plays on the edge but he is too valuable on the ice. Some of the things, he doesn’t need to do them. It’s part of the game sometimes, but there is a fine line, and he knows that. We have had some good conversations, and it has to end now. He is too valuable to the team. We need him on the ice. … The part he needs to understand is he’s got more skills than he realizes, so use those skills to your advantage. And he’s going to get it, he’ll figure it out.”
Based on his average salary, Garbutt will forfeit $65,853.66. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Garbutt will miss Saturday’s game vs. New Jersey, the Dec. 17 game at Vancouver and the Dec. 19 game at Calgary. He will be eligible to return for the Dec. 21 game at Edmonton.
Practice notes: Lehtonen returns, Goligoski and Moen stay off ice again
Goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who did not practice Wednesday, was back on the ice Thursday and went through a full practice. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Lehtonen has been dealing with a lower body injury.
Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski was off the ice for a second straight day with an injury related to getting hit with a shot. Ruff said he expects Goligoski to practice Friday in order to get ready for Saturday’s game against New Jersey.
Forward Travis Moen was off the ice for a second straight day. Moen suffered an upper body injury in Tuesday’s game against Winnipeg. Moen could skate on his own Friday, but is listed as doubtful for Saturday’s game against the Devils.
With Moen not expected to play and Garbutt now out due to suspension, the Stars are expected to call up a forward from the Texas Stars of the AHL for Saturday’s game.
Stars practice lineup
Here’s how the Dallas Stars lined up in Thursday’s practice.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Colton Sceviour
Curtis McKenzie – Jason Spezza – Erik Cole
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ales Hemsky
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Jyrki Jokipakka – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Jason Demers
Jamie Oleksiak – John Klingberg
Not skating: Travis Moen, Alex Goligoski
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.