Phil Kessel suspended for remainder of preseason for slashing in brawl

By Brian Stubits |

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Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel has been suspended for the remainder of the preseason (three games) for slashing Sabres forward John Scott with the intent to injure. Department of Player Safety head Brendan Shanahan announced the punishment on Tuesday.

The slashing infractions came at the beginning of the brawl that erupted between the two teams on Sunday night in Toronto when Scott attempted to go after Kessel. He was handed a match penalty for the slashing violations.

In terms of discipline, the problem wasn't the first slash that Kessel made but the second one. The first was pretty clearly an attempt at self-defense, something Shanahan acknowledges. It was the second swing that was gratuitous and earned the ire of the league.

What's interesting is that the league also took into consideration some slashing that Kessel made earlier this preseason in a game against the Flyers. That likely helped the league decide Kessel deserved some sort of punishment.

Still, it's not that bad for Kessel. Sure, he will have to sit out the remainder of the preseason but not like that's a huge deal. He's not going to miss any preseason games out of this nor will he be deprived any of his salary. There have been worse punishments handed out.

Considering the fact that a mammoth of a man in Scott was lunging his way, this punishment is fair. Three preseason games is enough of a slap on the wrist to get the message across while not being overly penal for a player on the defense of an attack.

Kessel's teammate David Clarkson earned an automatic 10-game suspension in the fracas while Sabres coach Ron Rolston was fined for his "player selection and team conduct."

Here's your reminder that the Leafs and Sabres play a home-and-home on Nov. 15 and 16.

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