NEW YORK — Washington Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway has been suspended three games for spitting on an opponent.

The NHL announced Hathaway’s suspension Wednesday after a hearing with him. He will forfeit $24,194 in salary.

Toward the end of a heated brawl between the Capitals and Ducks on Monday night, Hathaway responded to a rabbit punch from Erik Gudbranson by spitting on the Anaheim defenseman. Hathaway was ejected with a match penalty that carried with it an automatic suspending pending review by the league.

Hathaway, a Kennebunkport native, said he regretted spitting on Gudbranson and called it an emotional moment. He will miss Washington’s games against the New York Rangers, Vancouver Canucks and Florida Panthers.

The 27-year-old has been a strong addition to the Capitals since they signed him in July. With Washington in salary cap trouble because of injuries and the suspension, the team put winger Carl Hagelin on long-term injured reserve and Nic Dowd on injured reserve and recalled two minor league forwards to play Wednesday night at New York.

MAPLE LEAFS:  The Toronto Maple Leafs fired Coach Mike Babcock and replaced him with Sheldon Keefe.

Babcock had a record of 9-10-4 in 2019-20 for the struggling Leafs, who are 0-5-1 in their last six games, including five straight losses in regulation.

Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan flew to Arizona on Wednesday to break the news to Babcock along with General Manager Kyle Dubas. Shanahan said that he felt he should be present as he hired Babcock in the spring of 2015.

“It wasn’t an easy conversation to have and it wasn’t pleasant, days like today are not,” Shanahan said in Scottsdale, Arizona. “But it was what we felt was important for the club. Once you realize there’s something you should do, and have to do, then it’s best to act on it.”

Toronto, two points out of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, fell 4-2 to the Golden Knights in Vegas on Tuesday night. Babcock’s last win for the Leafs, on Nov. 7 against Vegas, was the 700th of his NHL career. He has a career record of 700-418-19 with Toronto, Detroit and Anaheim.

Hired as part of a massive rebuild, the 56-year-old Babcock went 173-133-45 in his four-plus seasons with Toronto. He joined the Maple Leafs with an impressive resume, having won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008 and back-to-back Olympic gold medals with Canada in 2010 and 2014.

After signing the richest coaching contract in NHL history at $50 million over eight years, Babcock got Toronto to the playoffs the last three seasons, but was unable to advance beyond the first round.

The 39-year-old Keefe, who has a long history with Kyle Dubas, was in his fifth season as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies. Keefe was 199-89-31 with the Marlies and helped secure the franchise’s first Calder Cup championship in 2018.

SENATORS: Forward Bobby Ryan will be away from the team indefinitely while taking part in the NHL/National Hockey League Players’ Association assistance program.

Ryan, 32, did not play for Ottawa in a victory in Detroit on Tuesday, one day after leaving practice early because he was not feeling well, according to Coach D.J. Smith.


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