Antoine Roussel has never gone through a full NHL season with fewer than 100 minutes in penalties. The agitator and dérangeur de merde has a knack for getting under the skin of his opponents, which sometimes lands him on the wrong side of the on-ice law.
This season, Roussel is starting off behind the eight ball after missing the first 28 games of the season recovering from knee surgery. Heading into Monday night's game against the Nashville Predators, Roussel had a mere 25 penalty minutes, on-pace for a mere 48 for the season
Perhaps that's why Roussel erupted at the tail end of the 6-2 Vancouver Canucks win, racking up 14 penalty minutes in a hurry: two minutes for cross-checking and two minutes for slashing Yannick Weber, and then a game misconduct for his subsequent scuffle with Jarred Tinordi. Now Roussel is on pace for a more on-brand 73 penalty minutes and could easily reach 100 with a few more game misconducts.
It was either the desire for more penalty minutes or perhaps it was the crosscheck he took moments earlier from Yannick Weber.
Whatever the case, Roussel's brief loss of composure will cost him an additional $5,000, as the NHL's Department of Player Safety didn't like the swing he took at Weber with his stick. This won't please Canucks fans who will immediately question why Roussel's infraction earned a fine, while various infractions committed against the Canucks, like Matt Grzelcyk's late hit on Elias Pettersson, seem to get no attention whatsoever.
Generally, the NHL frowns upon stick-swinging incidents, where the contact is not a part of a hockey play. That's particularly true under George Parros, the current head of player safety.
"We used to be worried about headhunting and major things like that," said Parros when he took the job. "Now we're worried about slashing and some more minor infractions, you might say. So the game's in a good place. There doesn't need to be a huge shake-up, a huge change in philosophy.”
You could argue that the Department of Player Safety should be a lot more worried about "headhunting and major things" as they haven't gone away, but you can't argue that Parros didn't make his position clear. Slashing is at the top of the list of things threatening player safety in the NHL, evidently.
Ultimately, the fine makes sense. Roussel can't swing his stick at a player like that, even if Weber didn't suffer a serious injury or any injury at all. Those kinds of slashes can break bones.
Roussel won't be punished, however, for his more amusing stick incident from Monday's game. While tussling with Tinordi after the whistle, Roussel ripped Tinordi's stick out of his hands and tossed it over the glass, where it was caught by an appreciative Canucks fan, who celebrated by chugging his beer, as you do.
Unfortunately for the fan, Tinordi's stick didn't stand up to the flex test in the concourse after the game.
To set the record straight;— Andrew Holmes (@And_Holmes) February 11, 2020
1.) had to pee
2.) caught a stick
3.) drank my beer
4.) left seat early-ish to pee
5.) collected twig from staff
6.) had a laugh with the boys in the mens while flexing stick, jokin’ about its future beer league life
7.) stick snaps from flexing.. 😿