Kaleta suspended five games for ‘extremely dangerous’ Richards hit

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Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta has been suspended five games — the maximum sentence following a telephone disciplinary hearing — for his hit on New York’s Brad Richards.

Kaleta had a telephone hearing with NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan Monday afternoon.

“In spite of the fact that Kaleta does not shove Richards with great force, he does so at an extremely dangerous distance from the boards,” Shanahan explained via video. “Kaleta is in full control of this play and has ample opportunity to make a better decision.”

Shanahan also notes Richards didn’t turn his back at the last minute, and did nothing to contribute to being hit.

Here’s Shanahan’s full video explanation:

The incident occurred early in the third period, earning Kaleta a five-minute checking from behind major and game misconduct. Richards left momentarily, but was able to return to the contest.

Kaleta will be out of action until Saturday, Mar. 16, missing games against the Hurricanes, Devils, Flyers, Rangers and Senators — meaning yes, he’ll be held out of action when New York and Buffalo renew acquaintances on Mar. 12.

The Rangers were visibly upset with the hit. Head coach John Tortorella called it “one of the most dangerous hits I’ve ever seen,” while Richards classified it as “stupidity.”

Kaleta himself said he felt like a “bag of garbage” about the incident, but did say he’s “changed his game.”

In addition to missing the next five games, Kaleta will forfeit $76,219.25 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie notes the monetary fine is higher than usual because Kaleta’s a repeat offender.