Patrick Kaleta suspended five games for hit on Brad Richards

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

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Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta has been suspended five games for his shove from behind on Brad Richards of the New York Rangers, the NHL announced.

The five-game ban is the longest doled out by the NHL Department of Player Safety this season.

The incident occurred Sunday night early in the third period. Kaleta received a five-minute major and game misconduct on the play and was deemed to have violated the boarding rule.

Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's senior vice president of player safety, cited Richards' distance to the boards and the fact that his body position never changed before Kaleta made contact.

Since Shanahan did not request an in-person hearing with Kaleta, five games is the maximum number of games the Buffalo forward could be suspended.

Although Richards later returned to game action, he is fortunate not to have been injured worse. Plays like these are extremely reckless. Though Kaleta did not use much force, Richards was in a defenseless position.

Kaleta has developed a reputation for dirty play and had been suspended twice previously by the league. He is considered a repeat offender.

This is a fairly strong message from the NHL, which has come under scrutiny for perhaps being too lenient in the shortened season.

Shanahan and his staff will probably never be considered consistent with all of the gray area within player discipline, but hits like Kaleta's usually offer a fairly open-and-shut case.

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