I Swear Gaa!: Biting Has No Place in the NHL


Victory wasn’t the only thing the Toronto Maple Leafs tasted when they visited the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. A momentous win for the Leafs and their organisation was directly shrouded by a number of late game incidents which left the team with a serious hit to their reputation. In one of the most complete and dominant efforts the Leafs have compiled in years, starting from the goaltender upwards, it was disappointing that the game would have such a large footnote.

Column Origin: http://youtu.be/wylmOGotyvY?t=41s
Column Origin: http://youtu.be/wylmOGotyvY?t=41s

While there are a couple of incidents to speak of, the biggest came in a scrum in the third period. This was when Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski decided to coral his inner toddler and bite Habs forward Max Pacioretty. The later lost his cool, attempting to shake the grasp of the referee in order to get a shot in at the Belarusian forward before repeatedly showing the referee his arm, on which a red mark was clearly visible. Replays showed the Grabovski fairly clearly chomping down on Pacioretty’s arm.

This is certainly not the NHL’s first biting incident, the most famous of which in recent memory involving Canucks forward Alex Burrows in the Stanley Cup finals against Patrice Bergeron. If you don’t remember, just ask Max Lapierre, he seems to have quite the recollection of the incident. Bergeron’s hand entered the mouth of Burrow’s, who decided for some reason that Bergeron was trying to pull out his teeth and bit him. Burrows received no suspension on the play.

The Grabovski incident was similarly a classless act, but it could be said that his was even worse than the despicable play that still haunts Burrows. The Burrows bite was through the glove of the Bruins player, and while Bergeron did show the officials his finger there was no obvious mark on it. Even on a tube TV you could see the welt on Max Pacioretty’s arm as Grabovski was able to get his exposed flesh. Bruins and Habs fans rarely agree on anything, but both understand biting has no place in hockey and should constitute a lengthy suspension.

So what kind of discipline will Grabovski receive? It remains to be seen. However, if he gets what he deserves for this incident it should be between 8 and 10 games. This is a very harsh sentence in a shortened season but it makes a point to all players that biting is absolutely unacceptable in the sport of hockey. Will he get that sort of suspension? Most likely not. It would be a bold statement from the NHL to say the least, but one that is necessary.

From the Leafs camp their are several arguments as to what really happened on the incident. The first of which is similar to what Burrows argued during his incident, that the arm/finger was played in/in front of the face. But for Grabovski the arm was not actually in his mouth, while it certainly was in the Burrows incident, not that this is defending Burrows in any form. They will also say that the marks on Pacioretty were from Grabovski’s nails. But as a grown man should be smart enough not to bite someone he should also have the intelligence to recognize when he has been bitten.

Mikhail Grabovski should be ashamed of himself. When even young children look at the incident and describe it as “immature” it is apparent there is something seriously wrong with the picture.

Feel free to comment below, and remember you can follow us on twitter at @Isweargaa and @lastwordonsport

Main photo credit: bridgetds via photopin cc


  1. The joke disciplinary committee of the NHL will dismiss this incident and encourage more bad behaviour. It has been reported that the attempt to cripple Plekanecs by Leaf’s goon Colton Orr via knee on knee contact was dismissed today.

  2. Some of you people must have X-ray vision, because all the replays I’ve seen only show Pacioretty smothering Grabovski with his arm, followed by Grabovski falling to the ice. There is absolutely no video evidence of a biting motion, and constantly repeating it wont make it true.

    • When a player goes crazy on the ice accusing another player of biting him…. its such a rare occurence, and there is nothing to be gained from the accusation in a 6-0 game, that I tend to believe him.

      Then, when reporters who are in the dressing room like Renaud Lavoie and Dave Stubbs say that there are definite bite marks. I tend to believe them.

      And finally, when the league is sent evidence of those bite marks and promptly schedules a disciplinary hearing for the player, I tend to believe them.

  3. Great attempt at spin. You followed the first rule of spin, “leave out all information that doesn’t help your case”.
    Start at the beginning, Prust cheap shots Grabovski, big scrum, Prust and Grabovski are engaged in the middle of the scrum, Max P. reaches around Grabovski’s face and yanks back, with Grabovski falling back he reaches up and grabs Max P’s arm, Max P yanks away and starts yelling at the referee.

    That is ALL we see. We are told that Max P says he was bit. He shows his wrist to the referee and it looks to be red. If anyone says they saw a bite, they are lying, they are taking Max P’s word for it, and assuming it happened. How come no picture of the bitten wrist? At least I haven’t seen any. How come no broken skin on that soft fleshy side of the wrist?

    So, did he bit him? Just like everyone else, I don’t know either. Maybe…. maybe Max P yanking back and Grabovski grabbing at the arm felt like a bite, maybe Max made it up in the anger over the beating they were getting, maybe it’s just a red mark from yanking back on Grabovski’s face. Any of the above, or a combination. But the truth is not known by any of us. We can only assume what we think happened, and that will depend on who you believe or which team you prefer. The author of this article makes his team obvious.

    I think the author of this article should be ashamed for trying to spin an incident into what he wants it to be, rather than the truth.

    • There is NO EXCUSE for biting… None. Say what you want, but the guy bit him and there is no room for that in hockey.

      And sorry, a little face wash that happens on every scrum is not an excuse for biting.

      As for the evidence… the pictures of his bitten arm and the doctors reports have been sent to the league office. Grabovski has a hearing with the league office today. It is not the team’s responsibility to release them to the media, instead they have been sent to the proper channels of NHL player safety.

      I think you should be ashamed for denying the facts that are right in front of you.

  4. And here’s Ben trying to spin too. Your right, There is NO EXCUSE for biting… None.” BUT…. You do NOT know there was a bite. You are drawing a conclusion, because your guy says he was bitten. You can NOT see a bite in the video. You can only assume.
    Hmmmm.. a “little” face wash, come on Ben, your colours are showing.

    I think you should be ashamed for making up “facts”

    • You must be dense.

      Did you miss the part about reporters saying that they saw the bite marks?

      Are you missing the part that the team sent photos to the league and the league has called for a hearing at 4pm now? Do you think they did that just cause?

      Yeah, it may be all circumstantial evidence, but here’s the thing, its becoming a mountain of circumstantial evidence, which has been shown to be enough to convict for in courts.

      Its not just Max saying he was bit… its a ref throwing grabo out of the game after looking at Pac’s arm, its a reporter who says he sees bite marks, its the league seeing photos and calling him in, there is a lot there.

  5. i won’t speculate on the length of the suspension but i have little doubt Shanahan hands out a suspension for this… the biting itself is gutless but what’s even more gutless and absurd is the amount of TML fans justifying the action… guess when you’ve been traumatized by 45+ yrs of failure, something like this seems like a Stanley Cup parade.