Calgary Flames prospect Juuso Valimaki (currently of the American Hockey League’s Stockton Heat) was assessed an automatic three-game suspension for physical abuse of officials (Cat. III) as a result of his actions in a game against the Ontario Reign on Jan. 29.
The incident occurred in Valimaki’s first game back after suffering an injury three weeks prior against the same Ontario team. Reign captain Brett Sutter — son of current Calgary Flames head coach Darryl — injured Valimaki with a heavy open-ice hit back on Jan. 9, causing Valimaki to miss five games.
In his return on Jan. 29, Valimaki appeared to make contact with referee Alec Rounds during a post-whistle scrum involving Sutter and Reign defenceman Cameron Gaunce.
The official immediately charged Valimaki with a game misconduct (per the AHL rulebook, the penalty also comes with an automatic three-game suspension).
Heads up – at the end of the 32 Thoughts pod dropping today this is the scene we're discussing at the end. https://t.co/NaIOMiVNEA
— Jeff Marek (@JeffMarek) February 14, 2022
After serving his ban, Valimaki returned to the Heat lineup on Feb. 12 in time to help his team defeat the same Ontario squad 6–5 in a shootout.
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed the Valimaki incident as part of a response to a listener question on Monday’s episode of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast (titled “Toffoli Traded & Eichel Returns).
The discussion began at the 58:18 mark of the episode and was prompted by the following question, sent in by Paige Dean:
Regarding a conversation on a recent [episode] about brothers fighting in NHL history, of course the Sutters are in the conversation. Now, with the next generation of Sutters in the league, and a recent incident, I wonder about family communication or confrontation. Juuso Valimaki was injured by Brett Sutter, son of Darryl. Then, in his return, [Valimaki] scraps with Brett, leading to an altercation with the official that ultimately led to his suspension. Is there a phone call between Darryl and Brett to ‘leave my prospect alone’?
Here’s the transcript of the subsequent exchange between Marek and Friedman:
Jeff Marek: I have a hard time thinking that Darryl would call Brett on that one, but, you have a thought on that one, Friedge?
Elliotte Friedman: I doubt that Darryl would call Brett on that. I will say this, that when Darryl was fired as general manager of the Calgary Flames, Brent was the head coach. And they had a feud over it. As a matter of fact — I can’t remember, I know I wrote it in one of my old blogs — but one of them was actually trying to fire the other one, and got fired.
JM: Oh, geez. [Laughs]
EF: So, like, like, like, I think if I remember correctly, I think Darryl was trying to fire Brent. [JM: Oh, no.] And, he got fired. I remember, I wanted to interview them about that, and Darryl, in no uncertain terms, told me what was going to be happening about the possibility of that interview. [JM laughs] Which was a pretty funny conversation, actually. I do think they have battles from time to time, but I can’t imagine that Darryl would call Brett about that one.
JM: No. That incident, and I’ll link to the incident on Twitter, in that scenario where Valimaki gets the suspension for getting rough with the referee — so, in that video, you see Cameron Gaunce, who’s a defenceman for the Ontario Reign, talking to Valimaki and then mocking him by, like, running his fingers over his helmet, mocking that he’s running his fingers through his hair.
— Mike Gould (@miketgould) February 15, 2022
JM [Cont’d]: So, when I got this email [from Paige Dean], I said, OK, I’ve gotta find out more about this incident after watching the video, so I called Cameron Gaunce. And, here’s the story behind that entire sequence. So, yeah, Sutter and Valimaki had something going all game, and in that game as well, Martin Frk caught Valimaki with a thunderous hit. Like, really caught him, and all the guys — it was one of those hits, Elliotte, apparently, where everybody’s concerned on the ice right away. Like, “oooh, that looks like a bad one.” Everybody’s concerned about Valimaki, but he waved everybody off and sat up and — I don’t know if he took his helmet off or his helmet was off, and Valimaki’s got the long feathers and he started running his fingers through his hair, sort of indicating that, “yeah, I’m fine, no problem.”
— Mike Gould (@miketgould) February 15, 2022
JM [Cont’d]: And then this incident [between Sutter and Valimaki] started, and Cam said he went over to Valimaki and said, “what are you doing, you’ve got a head injury and you’re trying to start fights.” And Valimaki said, “I don’t have a head injury, I’m fine.” And that’s why Cam kind of said, like, “well, what are you doing with the whole act, with, like, running your fingers through your hair, like running your fingers through your feathers.” And that’s why Gaunce, at that time, started mocking him by, in true hockey fashion, strutting past him, pretending to run his fingers through his hair. Cam, by the way, did want me to mention, if I’m telling this story, that one of the reasons why he did it is, he’s envious that Valimaki has the long hair because no way that Cam Gaunce can come close to growing it. So, that’s the backstory on the Valimaki–Sutter–Cameron Gaunce story with the Ontario Reign and the Stockton Heat.
You can listen to Monday’s episode of 32 Thoughts: The Podcast here.
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