Montreal Canadiens forward Georges Laraque has been handed a five-game suspension by the NHL for his knee-on-knee hit to Detroit's Niklas Kronwall on Saturday. ((Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press))

Montreal Canadiens tough-guy Georges Laraque will miss the next five games after being suspended by the NHL for his knee-on-knee hit on Detroit's Niklas Kronwall.

Laraque was handed the multi-game ban after speaking Monday with NHL senior vice-president Colin Campbell, the league's disciplinarian.

The hit, which was called by referees in Montreal as a trip, sidelined the Red Wings defenceman Kronwall for at least a month with a serious medial collateral ligament sprain of his left knee.

"Mr. Laraque's actions were dangerous and caused a significant injury to his opponent," Campbell said in a statement released by the league.  

After the game Saturday, Laraque told reporters the hit was accidental and the reaction of referees proved it.

"There were four refs on the ice, and they didn't call anything," Laraque said. "If they called a match penalty, it would be different. There was no intent, there was no reason why I would try to go and hurt him. It was a pure accident. That's why they called it tripping, so I'm not worried at all."

In missing the five matches — games against Columbus, Pittsburgh, Washington, Toronto and Buffalo — Laraque forfeits $38,860.10 US in salary. He won't be eligible to return to the Habs lineup until the Dec. 4 game against Boston.

With files from the Associated Press