Mikhail Grabovski seems to have given hockey fans and the NHL something to chew on.
The Maple Leafs forward got a one-day reprieve when his hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan over an alleged biting incident was delayed.
Grabovski and Shanahan will discuss over the phone on Monday — scheduled for 11 a.m. — just what happened Saturday in the third period when Montreal’s Max Pacioretty grabbed Grabovski from behind and twisted his head. Grabovski responded by appearing to chomp on Pacioretty’s arm.
No reason was given for the delay — it was originally scheduled for Sunday — but the league is certain to come to a decision before the Leafs play the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday evening at the Air Canada Centre.
Grabovski could be suspended or fined, or both. Neither Grabovski nor Pacioretty spoke after the game, nor did Grabovski speak to reporters after Sunday’s practice at the MasterCard Centre.
“I’m very confident (he didn’t bite Pacioretty),” said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle on Sunday. “The bottom line is, it has to be conclusive.”
Carlyle was asked if he would have liked to have seen Pacioretty get a hearing as well.
“You know what, to make comments on what the NHL does, I learned a long time ago. I leave that up to you guys (media),” said Carlyle. “I’ve been fined once in my life for criticizing officials and they’re not going to get any more of my money.”
Twitter sunk its teeth into the bite debate, adding another layer to Toronto’s historic rivalry with Montreal, as supportive Leaf fans incited Montreal fans with hashtags like “#Biteme” and “#FreeGrabbo.”
“Sore losers, simple as that,” tweeted one.
Grabovski ― a former Hab ― has left his mark on this rivalry. He is frequently targeted by Montreal players — the Leafs accused Brandon Prust of cheapshotting Grabovski on Saturday night — and routinely jeered at the Bell Centre.
“This shouldn’t be happening,” Habs defenceman Josh Gorges said of the alleged bite. “Drop your gloves, fight, stand up for yourself.”