(97.1 The Ticket) Givani Smith, one of the Red Wings top prospects, committed an unpardonable offense on Tuesday night. And he likely earned himself a 10-game suspension in the process.
Smith, a 20-year-old right winger who plays for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, threw a referee to the ice in order to fight Sarnia Sting defenseman Kelton Hatcher. The referee, Dustin McCrank, was trying to separate Smith from Hatcher.
Briefly unrestrained, Smith spun down Hatcher by the jersey and landed a few rights before McCrank re-intervened and broke things up.
Surprisingly, Smith wasn’t penalized for making contact with McCrank. He received a minor for cross-checking and a major for fighting. (Hatcher, meanwhile, was assessed a minor for instigating, a major for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.)
Still, OHL rules explicitly state that a suspension of at least 10 games will be applied to “any player who deliberately applies physical force to an official in any manner.”
Asked about potential discipline for Smith, Kitchener head coach Jay McKee told the Waterloo Region Record, “I’ll leave that to the league. No abuse of an official penalty was called on the play.”
Smith was the Red Wings’ second-round draft pick (No. 46 overall) in 2016. Listed at 6’2, 210 lbs., he’s known as a physical forward with a nose for the net.
In his last three seasons in the OHL, Smith has scored 66 goals and racked up 331 penalty minutes. He’s significantly cut down on his time in the box this year, but his emotions clearly got the better of him Tuesday night.
Smith, who’s in his final year of junior eligibility, will likely make the jump to AHL Grand Rapids next season. He was held pointless in a three-game cameo with the Griffins late last season.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland likes Smith’s willingness to score dirty goals.
“He goes to the paint. If you want to score goals in the world today, with the size of the goalies and with the way they play defense, you have to go to the paint, and he goes to the paint. He’s not going to be deterred,” Holland said after the 2016 draft.
Said Smith at the time, “I like to hit and also like to score goals. I like to do both, and that’s kind of how I see myself. I’m an aggressive guy on the ice, but at the same time, I’m going to be working hard to score goals.”
Kitchener, who clinched its division on Tuesday night, has five games remaining. Smith is likely to be suspended for all of them, as well as the first five games of the playoffs. He hasn’t appeared in the playoffs since the 2014-15 season.