A poor decision by Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf will cost him games this week against two tough NHL Western Conference clubs.
The league on Tuesday suspended Phaneuf two games for his hit from behind against Boston defenceman Kevan Miller in Sunday’s 5-2 loss. He wasn't penalized on the play.
At 17:43 of the third period, Phaneuf was gliding into a puck battle in the corner when he lowered his left shoulder and made contact with Miller between the numbers on the back of his jersey.
'At no point during his approach does Phaneuf see anything but Miller's numbers, so the onus is on him to either avoid the hit completely or at the very least minimize it more than he does.' - NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan
In announcing the suspension, NHL vice-president of player safety Brendan Shanahan said that Miller should never have been eligible to be hit like he was.
"At no point during his approach does Phaneuf see anything but Miller's numbers, so the onus is on him to either avoid the hit completely or at the very least minimize it more than he does," Shanahan said.
Miller left the game, but Claude Julien told reporters that he wasn't worried about the defenceman's condition. That factored into the two-game suspension, as did the fact that Phaneuf has no previous history of discipline in nine NHL seasons.
Miller is expected to be in the Bruins' lineup Tuesday night when they visit the Calgary Flames.
Phaneuf, who is averaging a team-high 24 minutes 13 seconds of ice time this season, hasn’t missed a game since early in the 2010-11 season.
Phaneuf told reporters at the team's practice facility in Toronto that he was not happy about the decision but had to accept it. Coach Randy Carlyle said the team had a difference of opinion with the league on the ruling.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli did not have much more than that to add.
"I accept the ruling," he said after the board of governors meeting. "I'm just happy Miller wasn't hurt and he's able to play."
Phaneuf is the fourth Maple Leaf to be suspended this season. Carter Ashton boarded Calgary’s Derek Smith and sat two games while fellow forward Nazem Kadri served three games for knocking down Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom. David Clarkson missed the first 10 games of the season after leaving the bench to join a fight in a pre-season game versus Buffalo.
Phil Kessel was suspended three pre-season games for slashing Sabres forward John Scott during the brawl between the teams in September.
Toronto hosts the 19-7-4 Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday before travelling to St. Louis to face the 19-6-3 Blues the following night.
Phaneuf loses more than $66,000 US in salary, money that will be directed to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.