In the opening minute of Saturday’s contest between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings, while everyone else was focused on getting the game underway, Detroit’s Steve Ott and Boston’s Zdeno Chara were zeroed in on each other, engaged in a shoving match that lasted until the first whistle.
As it turns out, the Bruins captain got a little sidetracked after Ott speared him somewhere in the midsection. It’s difficult to tell, but the Red Wings winger either poked Chara in the stomach, or in a place much more delicate.
The spear that initiated the altercation between the two apparently went unnoticed by the officials. Each player received a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, with nothing additional for Ott's first strike.
Many fans on social media were calling for a suspension for Ott’s actions, in part because of his reputation as an agitating player with a penchant for borderline behavior. According to NBC Sports’ Adam Gretz, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety has never issued more than a fine for a spearing incident. Consistent with past spearing incidents, the NHL Department of Player Safety announced a fine to Ott of $2,222.22, the maximum allowable under the CBA.
Ott has been suspended three times in his NHL career, although he’d had a clean record for the past seven years. In March 2008, the 34-year-old was suspended three games for a head hit to Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jordan Leopold. In March 2009, the forward earned a one-game suspension for eye gouging Anaheim Ducks winger Travis Moen. And in October 2009, Ott received a two-game ban for a low hit on St. Louis Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo.