'I just lost it' -- Leaf

ROB LONGLEY

, Last Updated: 11:32 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Mikhail Grabovski's emotional return to play his former team earlier this week has come with a price.

The Maple Leafs forward was suspended for three games yesterday for pushing NHL linesman Scott Cherrey late in Thursday's 6-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

Grabovski became animated in his attempt to get at Montreal's Sergei Kostitsyn late in the third period. After being tackled to the ice by Cherrey, Grabovski got up and shoved him, earning a mandatory three-game sentence for abuse of an official.

"He's never been in a situation like that and he over- reacted," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said yesterday.

"We don't like to see a young player like that have to miss three games because he's played so well for us.

"But he'll serve the punishment and we'll make do without him."

Grabovski has had a running feud with the Canadiens dating back to last season when he was with the club. He angered some teammates when he complained about his lack of ice time and Habs general manager Bob Gainey dealt him to the Leafs in the summer.

In an earlier meeting this season, Grabovski had altercations on the ice with Montreal captain Saku Koivu and goaltender Carey Price.

On Thursday, Grabovski was booed by the Bell Centre crowd every time he touched the puck and clearly he has issues with the younger of the two Kostitsyn brothers on the Habs. Grabovski wouldn't say how deep the hatred is, but admitted that the two weren't friends while growing up in Belarus.

"It's not typical of me," Grabovski said yesterday. "I'm not that type of player. I just lost it for a moment.

"Next time, I will just listen (to Kostitsyn, who was barking at Grabovski throughout the night) and I'll just go to the bench."

The 22 minutes in penalties Grabovski incurred in the game -- there was also a first-period misconduct following a disagreement with Guillaume Latendresse, and a high-sticking minor -- nearly doubled his season total. He entered the game with 26 minutes in the penalty box.

After the game, Grabovski tried to duck reporters but when caught on the way to the team bus, had this to say about Kostitsyn: "I think he is not Belarusian now, he is French because I never fight with Belarusian guys. 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."

As for Kostitsyn, he said after the game that he has grown tired of Grabovski's comments.

"He talks too much in the Russian papers about me and my brother," Kostitsyn said of elder sibling and fellow Hab, Andrei.


Videos

Photos