Mikhail Grabovski has given his former Montreal Canadiens teammates another reason to make him a target the next time they play Toronto.
The Maple Leafs centre has come clean, telling Yahoo! Sports that he indeed bit Canadiens left-winger Max Pacioretty during the third period of a 6-0 win in Montreal on Feb. 9.
Pacioretty had accused Grabovski of biting his wrist. During the melee, a gloveless Pacioretty reached from behind and put his arm across Grabovski’s mouth and face in an attempt to take off his helmet.
“The incident? It wasn’t that much,” Grabovski told the website. “[Pacioretty] was choking me and I bit him. Don’t stick your hands where you shouldn’t. To be honest with you, he was choking me pretty hard, to the point where I really couldn’t breathe. And I couldn’t pull his hand away at all.
“I tried to hit him with my other hand, but I couldn’t because he was choking me. There was nothing left to do but bite him.”
While leaving the ice that night, Pacioretty told officials he received a bite, his right arm apparently showing the evidence before he hurled his helmet down the corridor towards the Montreal dressing room.
Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien said after the game he saw the bite from behind his team’s bench.
“You can see that on the video,” he said.
Both players were assessed 10-minute misconducts while Grabovski also earned a roughing minor.
After the game, Pacioretty said he received a tetanus shot as a precaution.
The National Hockey League, citing inconclusive evidence, chose not to further discipline Grabovski following a telephone hearing.
Grabovski has been Public Enemy No. 1 in Montreal at various times since being a member of then-Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau’s doghouse for 27 games in the 2007-08 season.
In April 2009, his hit against Montreal blue-liner Andre Markov injured the Russian’s knee, putting him out of action for the final four games of the regular season and through a four-game quarter-final playoff sweep at the hands of Boston.
Grabovski had also feuded that season with fellow Belarusian Sergei Kostitsyn, even vowing to fight the then-Habs forward away from the rink.
“I think he is not Belarusian now, he is French because I never fight with Belarusian guys,” Grabovski said at the time. “I don’t know why he wants to fight with me. If he wants to fight, we’ll go in the street and every minute of every day I’ll wait for him and we’ll fight."