Bettman upholds Kaleta’s 10-game suspension

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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld the 10-game suspension given to Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta following his illegal check to the head of Columbus’ Jack Johnson.

“Regrettably, Mr. Kaleta stands out for his repeated violations of — and seeming indifference to — the Playing Rules put in place to protect other Players, and, particularly, other Players’ heads,” Bettman explained in a statement ruling. “Specifically, Mr. Kaleta has committed a series of other serious, head-related Playing Rule violations in each of the four most recent prior seasons.”

For Bettman’s complete ruling, click here

Kaleta, 27, announced he’d be appealing the ban on Oct. 16 and his hearing with Bettman took place this past Monday.

According to the ruling, Kaleta was appealing on the grounds that NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan “improperly reviewed evidence consisting of prior on-ice incidents” involving Kaleta, “improperly considered Supplementary Discipline fines” assessed against Kaleta and, finally, that Shanahan incorrectly used incidents with James Wisniewski and Andy Sutton as “the most appropriate [disciplinary] comparables.”

It’s worth noting that, despite his lengthy history with the Department of Player Safety, Kaleta had only been suspended once within the last 18 months prior to the Johnson hit, a five-gamer for boarding Rangers forward Brad Richards in March of 2013.

Kaleta’s previous suspensions (four games for headbutting, two games for boarding) happened more than 18 months ago.

As for the next step?

Kaleta can still continue with the appeal process. He has seven days to file through a neutral discipline arbitrator, which would be a landmark decision as no player has opted to go that route since the implementation of the NHL’s new collective bargaining agreement.

According to the CBA, the neutral arbitrator’s decision “shall be final and binding in all respects and not subject to review.”

Two previous appeals — by Raffi Torres and Paul Bissonnette — were heard by Bettman and resulted in reduced suspensions. Torres had his original 25-game ban reduced to 21 games, while Bissonnette had his original 10-game suspension reduced to three.