The Toronto Maple Leafs visited the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia to face off against the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday, January 7.
In the second period of the game, Atlanta defenseman Ben Eager shoved Toronto right winger Colby Armstrong into the glass. With Armstrong trapped and vulnerable, Eager sucker punched him with a right hook to the face. Armstrong immediately fell to the ground.
Eager may have been trying to retaliate against Armstrong for a hit on teammate Bryan Little or possibly even one against Rich Peverley.
Eager received a match penalty for the play and he has been suspended for four games by Colin Campbell, the NHL's chief disciplinarian.
Eager spoke to the Atlanta Journal Constitution and was none too happy with the ruling. “I’m surprised in one way, but there is no parity in these suspensions that are handed out... I get four somehow for hitting a guy with my glove on, that is looking right in my face."
He will forfeit $20,752 in salary during that period, with the money from the fine going to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
Eager can directly be blamed for the embarrassing loss. His four minute penalty late in the first period led to a power-play goal by Mikhail Grabovski. His penalty from the sucker punch led to four power-play goals from the Maple Leafs as the Thrashers were the ones who took a 9-3 thrashing.