The Phoenix Coyotes are under investigation for some of their actions after losing the NHL's Western Conference final to the Los Angeles Kings.
Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice-president of hockey operations who handles discipline outside of playing matters, said he does not know when his investigation will be complete because contacting players once their season ends can be difficult. "Not sure ... [it's]tough when a player's season is over and to co-ordinate times [for interviews]" Campbell said in a text message Friday morning.
However, he did not rule out the possibility of suspensions that would take effect next season or fines. Campbell said in a text he wasn't sure what form any punishment would take since he has not started interviewing those involved. The maximum fine he can assess, according to the collective agreement, is $2,500 (U.S.).
The Coyotes reacted angrily after losing in overtime Tuesday to the Kings because they felt the referees failed to call a penalty on Kings forward Dustin Brown for hitting Coyotes defenceman Michal Rozsival shortly before the winning goal. Rozsival had to leave the game with a knee injury and the Coyotes felt Brown should have been called for kneeing at the very least.
After the game, Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal acted aggressively toward the referees and there were charges the referees were biased against the Coyotes by goaltender Mike Smith and defenceman Keith Yandle. Coyotes captain Shane Doan exchanged words with Brown in the handshake line after the game and also angrily slammed the referees.
"All season long it seems like [the referees]did everything they could to not get us to this position," Smith said. He brought up the suspension teammate Raffi Torres received for an egregious hit earlier in the playoffs and said, "If Raffi Torres gets 25 games for a hit during the play, then this guy should be done forever."
NHL vice-president Brendan Shanahan, who is responsible for supplemental discipline for players' actions during play, upheld the referees' decision and did not issue any further punishment for Brown.
It looks like Campbell is not similarly inclined when it comes to the Coyotes' actions after the game.
"Their actions were unprofessional and unacceptable," Campbell told ESPN.com, which first reported the investigation.
However, Smith was not taking anything back. While Doan told the Arizona Republic he regretted some of the things he said, Smith did not back down.
"I don't regret anything I said. It needed to be addressed," Smith said. "We deal with what we've said to the media and to you guys. I've been honest all season long and I'm not going to change because a game put us out."
Coyotes general manager Don Maloney said Rozsival suffered a bruised knee from Brown's hit but it does not appear to be a serious injury.