Paul Bissonnette didn’t take long to put NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan to work this season.
The Phoenix Coyotes left-winger was suspended 10 games Monday after he left the team’s bench to fight Jordan Nolan of the Los Angeles Kings following the latter’s hit against Coyotes defenceman Rostislav Klesla in Sunday’s pre-season game.
Bissonnette was handed a game misconduct for leaving the bench, an infraction which calls for an automatic 10-game ban. He will forfeit $37,820.51 in salary and will be eligible to make his return Oct. 24 against the Kings.
On Monday morning, the league was gathering video to determine the correct ruling.
Midway through Sunday’s first period, Nolan sent Klesla to the ice with an open-ice hit. Trainers applied a neck brace to Klesla before putting him on a stretcher. Klesla waved to the crowd as he exited the ice and later left Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz., to undergo further evaluation at a local hospital.
“It seemed to me like a guy got hit in the head, and a player left his feet,” Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett told reporters. “But that’s not for me to diagnose.
“The league does a good job of those and when they feel like there’s a violation committed, they take action.”
Tippett said Monday Klesla was released from hospital around 3 a.m. and that the defenceman was resting comfortably at home with a concussion.
No suspension for Nolan
Nolan, who was assessed four minutes in penalties after the Klesla hit, was targeted when he returned to the ice.
He fought Bissonnette and was given a two-minute minor for embellishment and a 10-minute misconduct.
According to in-house video replay, Nolan led with his shoulder to Klesla’s head and left his feet on the follow-through as the defenceman looked down at the puck on his stick.
Nolan was not suspended for the hit, which NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan called an "open-ice body check."
"The hit was punishing and resulted in Klesla suffering an injury," Shanahan said in a video confirming no supplemental discipline. "However in delivering it, Nolan broke no National Hockey League rules."
Shanahan explained that Nolan did not leave his feet and did not launch himself at Klesla or target the defenceman's head.
In last year’s Western Conference final, a knee-on-knee collision between L.A. captain Dustin Brown and then-Phoenix blue-liner Michal Rozsival preceded the game-winning goal in overtime for the Kings in Game 5.
That incident spiked the rivalry between the Pacific Division foes with animosity.