Islanders' Mayfield ejected after injuring Barkov with knee-on-knee hit

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Nov 16, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov (16) is helped off the ice by left wing Anthony Duclair (10) and a team trainer after an apparent injury during the second period against the New York Islanders at FLA Live Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Barkov had to be helped off the ice after taking a knee-on-knee hit. (Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports)

Intentional or not, this was a brutal hit.

New York Islanders defenceman Scott Mayfield was ejected from Tuesday's game against the Florida Panthers for a knee-to-knee hit on forward Aleksander Barkov, who needed to be helped off the ice and did not return.

Mayfield received a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit to the knee, furthering the Islanders' woes, as they trailed the Panthers 4-0 in the second period at the time of the incident. The Panthers announced Barkov would not return shortly after the start of the third period.

The hit instantly divided the internet between "intentional" and "unintentional" believers.

Some think Mayfield couldn't possibly have willfully kneed Barkov based on the defenceman's speed and commitment to the hit way before the Panthers captain turned around. Others say Mayfield was just trying to make contact with the only available part of Barkov's body, regardless of safety, and made zero attempt to slow down.

It's likely Mayfield will also get a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety for the hit, which could lead to a suspension should the league deem punishment to be appropriate.

The 26-year-old Barkov has nine goals and 16 points over 14 games this year as the Panthers snapped a four-game losing streak with their eventual 6-1 victory over New York.

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