McAvoy Loses Appeal
The National Hockey League announced on Wednesday night that McAvoy was unsuccessful in his appeal to lesson his four-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Florida’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson late last month. As such, Boston’s alternate captain will not be eligible to return to the lineup until Saturday night in Montreal.
“What we were hoping for was just to get it reduced,” said McAvoy. “I understand the need for discipline there and I take responsibility for my actions. I made a mistake on the play. But really, the way that we understood it…sort of the way that it was explained to us by George [Parros] and Player Safety was that this is a Rule 48 suspension.
“Head contact, those start at two games and then you have two factors after that, so that’s injury and history. There’s no injury on the play and I have a history [having been suspended for Game 1 of the 2019 Eastern Conference Final], so two plus one is three. It’s not four. But I guess there’s not really anything you can do about it.”
Despite being disappointed by the ruling, McAvoy was appreciative of commissioner Gary Bettman taking the time to hear his argument.
“I thought I had a good chance…they seemed very receptive to what we had and our arguments, which I felt really good about,” said McAvoy. “I thought we made some really good points. I think there was times when we were really coming across and what we had made a lot of sense. I mean, we brought comparables to the table that are the exact same thing, guys that have history…ones that had injuries on the play that were rule 48 that had three games and not four, so sort of seemed like a new standard to us that they’re trying to get across.
“At the end of the day…I’m grateful for them taking the time to listen to me and give me a chance at that. I think it’s certainly a difficult position for them to be put in. They have to acknowledge that player safety made a mistake if they’re ever going to appeal anything. And that’s their team, so it’s certainly a difficult position.
“I’m not sure if it’s really…I don’t want to say winnable. I mean, it sort of seemed like that in a way…I was really appreciative of them being receptive and respectful and give me the opportunity to sort of speak my truth.”
McAvoy added that he is not focused on changing his approach and is aiming to continue to play his hard and physical style, though he does have to be mindful of avoiding any further discipline.
“I just want to get back on the ice and play hockey, you know?” said McAvoy. “But it’s certainly something to think about. I’ve played a lot of games…almost 400 games since my first suspension. And I throw hits every single game…within my character, I think I’ve established myself as someone who can play a physical style and do it clean.
“I made a mistake. The game moves fast. I asked for forgiveness and I was forgiven. I spoke to Oliver. I made a mistake. But I mean, I think you can put a kind of a montage together…I feel like I play the game hard, but I play it respectfully.”