A chastened Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl says he’s OK with a hefty fine and no suspension for spearing San Jose’s Chris Tierney in the groin.
“Obviously it was a stupid play. That’s not who I am. That’s not me. That’s now how I want to be seen as a player,” Draisaitl said after practice Thursday, hours ahead of a pivotal Game 5 matchup with the Sharks.
“I think everyone knows that I’m the last guy that wants to hurt anyone out there or that wants to play that type of game.
“It was a bad play by me so obviously I’m happy with what I got.”
Draisaitl had just 20 penalty minutes in the regular season, but he was given a major and game misconduct Tuesday night when he speared Tierney in a 7-0 blowout by the Sharks.
On Wednesday, the NHL fined him US$2,569.44, the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining deal with players. However, he will not miss any games.
The injury sent Tierney to the dressing room, but he returned to play minutes later.
The win evened the best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final series at two games apiece.
Draisaitl racked up 77 points in the regular season, eighth best in the NHL, but has disappeared in the playoffs.
The 21-year-old German-born player has no points and one shot on net in four games. In the last two games, he was bumped off the wing on the top line with Connor McDavid and moved to the centre spot on the third line as head coach Todd McLellan tried to jumpstart both Draisaitl and the Oiler offence.
What’s gone wrong? Draisaitl was asked.
“I just don’t think I’ve been playing good enough. That’s it,” he said.
“I have to be better. I have to make sure I’m a force out there. I have to get back to playing my game.”
The slow start raised questions about his health, but Draisaitl dismissed that despite a media scrum he interrupted a number of times with coughs.
“I’m fine,” he said.
In the pre-game skate Thursday, McLellan reunited Draisaitl on McDavid’s wing but bumped down Patrick Maroon from the other side and elevated rookie Drake Caggiula.
McLellan said Caggiula is a tenacious checker and skater and the hope is he can get in on the forecheck, disrupt things and free up the puck.