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October 16, 2013 Wednesday
396 words
Kaleta gets 10 games;
Suspension longer for repeat offender
Mike Brehm, @ByMikeBrehm, USA TODAY Sports

Throughout his two-plus years as head of the NHL's Department of Player Safety, league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan has made it clear he dislikes head hits and repeat offenders.

Tuesday, he handed out one of his harsher penalties to often-suspended Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta for a head hit on Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson.

The 10-game suspension, which was decided after an in-person hearing, will cost Kaleta $152,439 in lost pay. He served two games already while awaiting the hearing.

On the play Thursday, Kaleta collided with Johnson at 3:10 of the first period near the boards just inside the Buffalo zone. No penalty was called, but Kaleta received a fighting major after the Blue Jackets' Jared Boll came to Johnson's defense. Johnson remained in the game.

"Although Johnson is eligible to be checked, Kaleta takes an improper angle and misses Johnson's body and does not make a full body check," Shanahan said in a video explaining his ruling. "Instead, he hits Johnson directly on the chin with his shoulder."

Shanahan said he would have suspended anyone for Kaleta's hit but the reason he pushed the punishment into double-digit games was Kaleta's long history of appearing before the NHL.

"The fact that it was delivered by a player who has been fined or suspended six times in the last four seasons, the last just 21 games ago, factors heavily into the severity of the decision," he said.

The last suspension was in March, when Kaleta shoved New York Rangers center Brad Richards dangerously into the boards. Richards returned to that game but missed the next two with a sore neck. Shanahan gave Kaleta five games at a cost of more than $76,000.

He also was suspended for four games Nov. 3, 2011, for head-butting the Philadelphia Flyers' Jakub Voracek. He was suspended for two games Nov. 28, 2009, for boarding.

He was fined three times, including for an earlier head-butting incident.

Kaleta plays the role of agitator, a player who tries to get others off their games with big hits and play on the edge of the rules.

Matt Cooke, now with the Minnesota Wild, used to play that role but changed the way he approached hits because of suspensions.

Kaleta can return Nov. 2.

Meanwhile, the NHL fined Washington Capitals forward Jason Chimera the maximum $4,487.18 for a boarding infraction Monday against Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz.

October 16, 2013

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