Mark Scheifele said the four-game suspension he received for charging Montreal Canadiens forward Jake Evans in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Second Round was “excessive,” but the Winnipeg Jets forward will not appeal the ruling.
Scheifele, speaking Friday for the first time since the incident Wednesday, expressed concern for Evans and said there was no intent to injure.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Scheifele said of the suspension’s length. “I was pretty shocked. But that’s [the NHL Department of Player Safety’s] decision.”
Scheifele will begin his suspension with Game 2 on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; USA, CBC, SN, TVAS) and would be eligible to return for Game 6, if it is necessary. If Winnipeg is eliminated before Game 6, Scheifele must serve the remainder of the suspension at the start of the 2021-22 NHL regular season.
Winnipeg trails the best-of-7 series after losing 5-3 to Montreal in Game 1.
Scheifele said he will not appeal the decision to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, which is the right of any player suspended for five or fewer games.
“I don’t want to be a distraction to this team,” he said. “It’s Game 2 [in the second round] of the playoffs tonight, I’m going to accept the punishment. It really wouldn’t have done anything anyway, with the way that the rules kind of work with a suspension under six games. I don’t have much faith in that. I don’t want to be a distraction anymore. This has lingered on long enough.”
The incident occurred at 19:03 of the third period when Scheifele hit Evans, who was circling behind the net to score into the unguarded goal. Scheifele received a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct. Evans was taken off the ice on a stretcher and is out indefinitely with a concussion, although Canadiens coach Dominique Ducharme said Evans was feeling better Friday.
“My intention on that play is to try to negate a goal,” Scheifele said. “There’s no intent, there’s no malice there. I don’t go in with a frame of mind of injuring a hockey player. My record precedes itself. I think I’ve had not one charging penalty in 600 games. My thought process there is to cut him off at that post.”
Scheifele is tied for the Jets lead with five points (two goals, three assists) this postseason. He led Winnipeg in the regular season with 63 points (21 goals, 42 assists) in 56 games, the sixth straight season he scored at least 21 goals and 60 points.
Although Scheifele said he will accept his punishment, he spoke out against the hateful communication directed toward his family in the wake of the incident.
“I could care less about people saying things about me,” he said. “I’m a big boy, I can handle it. I signed up for this. That’s what you put yourself in this situation for. The media scrutiny, whatever that is, I can handle that. But to put my parents, my brother and sister, my loved ones, through that is completely unacceptable.”
NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell contributed to this report