Phil Kessel has Tuesday hearing for role in Leafs-Sabres brawl

By Brian Stubits |

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David Clarkson has already been handed his punishment from Sunday's brawl between the Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres, an easy enough, automatic 10-game suspension. There was no need for a hearing or much review, he came on the ice illegally and bam, 10 games.

It's not as cut and dry when it comes to other players in the scrap like Phil Kessel. That's why the Leafs sharpshooter has a hearing with the NHL on Tuesday afternoon at 4:45 ET.

Kessel's role in the brawl was unwilling to say the least. Kessel happened to be lined up opposite John Scott, who immediately made an attempt to go after Kessel, an unfair fight by any standard. Kessel reacted how most people would in that spot by backing away and taking a swing.

If that's all he had done perhaps that would have been the end of it, heaven knows it was completely understandable and justifiable. But after he was clearly free and teammates had intercepted Scott, Kessel came back and took another swing at Scott's skate. He later gave him a jab, not a spear, with his stick. Those secondary acts apparently caught the league's ire.

Trying to predict Brendan Shanahan's decisions is always a tough challenge but I wouldn't think Kessel will get too much here, perhaps the rest of the preseason and maybe one or two games to start the season at most.

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