NHL rejects Patrick Kaleta's appeal of 10-game ban
Sabre contended contact with Johnson was unavoidable
The National Hockey League has upheld Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta's 10-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Jack Johnson.
Kaleta had appealed the original ruling on the grounds that contact with Johnson's head was unavoidable.
Commissioner Gary Bettman dismissed Kaleta's appeal, siding with director of player safety Brendan Shanahan, who handed down the original penalty on Oct. 15. Shanahan said in his decision that Kaleta could have avoided contact with Johnson's head.
Bettman noted Kaleta was a repeat offender, having been previously suspended three times, and added that Kaleta could have avoided hitting Johnson.
"I do conclude that he could have and should have avoided the hit altogether," Bettman wrote. "As Mr. Shanahan testified at the hearing, 'I think there was also the option of not throwing the check. That [is] always an option."'
The punishment will cost Kaleta $152,439 US in lost salary. Kaleta has already served four games of the ban and is eligible to return Nov. 2 against Anaheim.
Even though the suspension was upheld, Kaleta still has the option of taking his case to neutral discipline arbitrator James Oldham.
This isn't the first time Kaleta has been in trouble with the NHL. He was suspended for five games last season after he shoved New York Rangers centre Brad Richards from behind and into the boards. That ban cost Kaleta $72,000 in salary.
Kaleta was suspended two other times earlier in his career.