Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson was hit with a two-game suspension by the NHL on Wednesday for his blindside hit on Buffalo Sabres forward Jason Pominville.
Hjalmarsson was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for drilling Pominville from behind and into the boards late in the first period during the defending Stanley Cup champions' 4-3 win on Monday in Buffalo.
Hjalmarsson will forfeit $37,634.40 US in salary and is eligible to return Saturday when the Blackhawks will again taking on Buffalo.
"There's nothing I can do about it now," Hjalmarsson told reporters following the team's morning skate Wednesday. "The league gave me two games and I just have to accept that. They have a tough job.
"If I could turn back time I probably would have acted different. You can't do that.
"It's a fast game out there and you have to make decisions real fast," Hjalmarsson added. "Sometimes it can get ugly. Maybe I went in too hard. Maybe I didn't. I really didn't intend to hurt him and I really hope that Jason gets well as soon as possible."
Pominville, who suffered a concussion and a cut above his eye, crumbled to the ice and was motionless for several minutes before being taken away on a stretcher. The 27-year-old is out indefinitely.
"It was too hard of a hit, I guess," Hjalmarsson said. "Maybe I should have considered [Pominville] being in a vulernable position and not hit him as hard. That's what [the NHL] said."
The hit on Pominville angered several Sabres, including goaltender Ryan Miller.
The reigning Vezina winner was particularly upset that Hjalmarsson's hit hasn't received more criticism.
"I don't even know if there was enough made of it because Jason is walking out with just stitches," Miller told reporters.
"What if Jason had a fractured neck? We don't even know if it's going to have an impact with concussions. So I just think no matter how badly [Hjalmarsson] feels, no matter if it's unintentional, we have to change the culture of it if we're ever going to change the situations we're seeing, where guys are laying on the ice bleeding and missing time with concussions."
Punishment just: Bolland
Niklas Hjalmarsson's teammates know him to be a hard hitter, not someone who enjoys putting an opponent out of action.
That's why the Blackhawks defenceman's two-game suspension for a blindside hit to Buffalo forward Jason Pominville is suitable punishment, according to Chicago forward Dave Bolland.
"Hjalmarsson is not a dirty player. He doesn't have a track record of dirty hits," Bolland said over the phone prior to Wednesday's home game against Nashville. "Two games is enough."
Hjalmarsson drew a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking Pominville from behind and into the boards late in the first period of Chicago's 4-3 victory.
Pominville was injured after skating backward along the sideboard in the Sabres end, waiting for the puck to reach him. Hjalmarsson hit him just behind the right shoulder. Pominville was sent face-first into the boards and crumpled to the ice.
"He was racing in to get the puck and went in with his shoulder. He got [Pominville] in an awkward spot," said Bolland, who was on the bench when the incident occurred.
"If [Hjalmarsson] was really trying to hurt him, he would have hit him in the back, not shoulder. We're playing hard, trying to win, not trying to hurt guys."
Pominville, who suffered a concussion and a cut above his eye, is out of the lineup indefinitely while Hjalmarsson will forfeit $37,634.40 US in salary and is eligible to return for Saturday's rematch against the Sabres.
— Doug Harrison, CBC Sports