Florida Panthers defenceman Michael Matheson said Wednesday he had no intention to injure Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson when he slammed him to the ice on Saturday.
"I've watched the clip numerous times and I definitely understand what they saw and why they thought it was worth two games... but it wasn't my intent," Matheson told reporters on Wednesday. “I see why people think it was malicious and deserving of suspension. I see that point of view. But I know how I was feeling in the moment and it wasn't that.
Matheson received a two-game suspension from the league's department of player safety on Monday for the act. The 24-year-old Matheson said he was simply trying to play strong defence against the skilled forward.
“He's a skilled player," Matheson added. "He makes good plays. When you're in a battle with someone, you want to play them hard and make sure they can't beat you back to the net. There was no point in my frame of mind where I was thinking 'I got to injure this guy.'
“First thing I thought of is whether he is okay. That was my main concern. Still is. I reached out to him to [apologize] and see how he's doing. It sounds like he's been doing better the last few days and that's great to hear."
"I know deep down there was no frustration from me when it happened."
Matheson said Pettersson, who sustained a concussion on the play, thanked him for reaching out and credited the 19-year-old for his maturity.
"He didn't have to answer me back but I'm glad he did," the Panthers defenceman said.
Matheson had no previous suspension history in 168 career games. He forfeited $52,419.36 in salary as a result of the ban and is eligible to return Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.