The Colorado Avalanche led the Arizona Coyotes 8-3 late in the third period Wednesday night when Nathan MacKinnon and Conor Garland got into a scuffle. It would have been an otherwise forgettable event in a blowout had MacKinnon not reacted the way he did after Garland's helmet fell to the ice.
The video shows the whole sequence, which started with Garland giving a little elbow to MacKinnon and MacKinnon feeling compelled to return the favor. MacKinnon grabbed Garland by the head, Garland grabbed MacKinnon by the leg, and the two wrestled around. As his teammate Gabriel Landeskog and Coyotes defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin grappled nearby, MacKinnon picked up Garland's helmet and tossed it underhand at him, bonking him squarely in the chest.
"Bonk" might be the most accurate verb to describe it. Although MacKinnon would've been wise to leave the fallen equipment on the ice, he wasn't trying to use Garland's helmet as a club, though he also wasn't returning the gear out of the kindness of his heart. He just ... bonked it. In any case, officials slapped the reigning Lady Byng winner with a 10-minute game misconduct, causing him to miss the end of a 9-3 Avalanche win.
“I think Garland tried to catch Nate off guard there, and Nate didn’t like it,” Landeskog said after the game, via The Athletic. “That was the end of that.”
Like Garland's helmet, it was up in the air as to whether MacKinnon would face any further discipline. Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar didn't expect the league to hand down a suspension for it, and he was correct. The NHL Department of Player Safety announced today that MacKinnon would be fined the maximum amount of $5,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Anyway, if you'd like to rewatch the helmet toss but with sound effects, this thread really delivers: