Nazem Kadri’s 8-game suspension upheld by independent arbitrator

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The eight-game suspension for Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri has been upheld by an independent arbitrator.

Kadri was suspended for his high hit on Blues defenseman Justin Faulk during Game 2 of their First Round series. After appealing to Commissioner Gary Bettman, Kadri’s ban was upheld. He then used his final option via the Collective Bargaining Agreement — going to an independent arbitrator.

This is the sixth suspension in Kadri’s NHL career, which includes three bans in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Per the NHL/NHLPA CBA, the decision is binding.

In his ruling, arbitrator Shyam Das detailed why eight games is an appropriate amount. First, it’s an example of “progressive discipline” with Kadri’s last three suspensions increasing in length from three to five to eight games. Secondly, the NHLPA argued that playoff games “count more” so the ban should be reduced. Das notes “it constitutes an ‘apples to apples’ comparison to Mr. Kadri’s immediate prior two (2) suspensions that also occurred during the playoffs.”

Das also rejected the union’s argument that four games was an appropriate penalty and cited Kadri’s previous suspension history.

[NBC 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

From the ruling:

First, the fact that Mr. Kadri stated that he did not subjectively intend to injure Mr. Faulk, and that the Rule 48 violation occurred during the course of play, does not justify reducing the suspension below eight (8) games. The absence of malicious intent to injure has already been taken into account. Had the conduct occurred under more egregious circumstances than present here (e.g., had Mr. Kadri acted with evident intent to injure), I would have had no hesitation in imposing a suspension longer than eight (8) games.

Nor does the fact that Mr. Kadri has not been suspended for a period of one- hundred and twenty-four (124) games over twenty-five (25) months warrant a reduction in the suspension. Article 18.2 contains no provision that calls for discounting a Player’s prior disciplinary record when imposing a suspension for on-ice conduct, based merely on the passage of time between penalties…

Assuming that there may indeed be occasions when a lengthy gap in time between disciplinary suspensions justifies some amount of leniency, this is not one of those occasions. Mr. Kadri is a six (6) time recidivist over an eight (8) year period, including three (3) of the last four (4) Stanley Cup Playoffs. There is nothing about his pattern that suggests that he is entitled at this point to “credit” for good behavior or that he has reformed in a way that would warrant disregarding any part of his lengthy record. Further, as I observed above, the vast majority of NHL Players play their entire careers without being assessed a rule 48 violation. Mr. Kadri has repeatedly demonstrated an inability to avoid dangerous hits to opposing Players’ heads during his career (including during three (3) of the prior (4) seasons), and the presence of an injury to the opposing Player here (which was not present in his prior two (2) offenses), underscores the need to impose a greater suspension on Mr. Kadri now.

Following the decision, Nazem Kadri will serve the remaining two games of his suspension. He’s eligible to return for Game 7 of their Second Round series with the Golden Knights. Should Colorado be eliminated in six games, he will miss the Avalanche’s opening game of the 2021-22 season.

Das has previously been used in past appeals, which resulted in the reduction of Tom Wilson‘s 20-game ban in 2018 to 14 games, and Austin Watson‘s 27-game suspension to 18 games.

AVALANCHE VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS (Series tied 2-2) – series livestream link

Game 1: Avalanche 7, Golden Knights 1
Game 2: Avalanche 3, Golden Knights 2 (OT)
Game 3: Golden Knights 3, Avalanche 2
Game 4: Golden Knights 5, Avalanche 1
Game 5: Tues. June 8: Golden Knights at Avalanche, 9 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 6: Thurs. June 10: Avalanche at Golden Knights, 9 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
*Game 7: Sat. June 12: Golden Knights at Avalanche TBD

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.