Pronger suspended 8 games for stomping
The NHL suspended Anaheim Ducks defenceman Chris Pronger eight games on Saturday for stomping on the leg of Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler.
League disciplinarian Colin Campbell issued the ruling after a phone hearing with Pronger on Saturday morning.
It's the eighth time Pronger has been suspended in his 14 NHL seasons. The rugged six-foot-six, 213-pound blue-liner was most recently banned one game for elbowing Ottawa's Dean McAmmond in last June's Stanley Cup final.
The latest suspension is twice as long as Pronger's previous career high of four games, which he has received on two occasions — most recently in 1998 for high-sticking then-Phoenix forward Jeremy Roenick.
"First, I apologize to Ryan Kesler," said Pronger. "Second, to the Vancouver Canucks organization, third, to the Anaheim Ducks organization, the league and the fans. They obviously deserve an apology as well.
"There is not a place for these types of instances in our game."
The latest incident occurred Wednesday night in Anaheim. After struggling to disentangle himself from a fallen Kesler deep in the Ducks' zone, Pronger appeared to bring his skate down on the leg of the Canucks forward.
Kesler wasn't hurt, and no penalty was assessed. Since the incident occurred away from the puck, the NHL didn't originally have proper video evidence for a suspension.
Pronger will be back for playoffs
Then on Thursday, the NHL saw a new angle that gave a better view and led to the punishment.
"In attempting to free himself, Pronger carelessly and recklessly brought his foot down," Campbell said in a statement.
Kesler said he was fine with the judgement.
"I'm not suprised he didn't get more considering how many games they have left," he told Rogers Sportsnet. "If that's what the league thinks he deserves, that's good enough for me."
Pronger will be eligible to return for Anaheim's regular-season finale on April 6 against Phoenix. With 88 points heading into Saturday's game against St. Louis, the defending Cup champion Ducks are a virtual lock for the post-season.
Pronger's suspension was the second handed down by the NHL this season for stomping. Minnesota Wild forward Chris Simon, then of the New York Islanders, received 30 games for stomping on the leg of Pittsburgh's Jarkko Ruutu during a December game.
Simon on Friday had questioned the initial decision to not suspend Pronger.
"I think what's happened here is there's a lot of sensitivity to anything related to skates right now," said Ducks general manager Brian Burke. "I would have to hope and believe that the NHL disregards any kind of outcry when they evaluate these kinds of things.
"I have a lot more confidence in Colin Campbell that he's never going to respond to media pressure. I know I never did when I did that job."
With files from the Canadian Press