NHL upholds 10-game ban for Kaleta

New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The National Hockey League has denied Patrick Kaleta's appeal of his 10-game suspension.

The Buffalo Sabres forward was issued the ban by NHL senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan nine days ago, for his actions in a game against Columbus on Oct. 10.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman heard Kaleta's case at league offices in New York on Monday, and issued a 17-page ruling explaining his actions on Thursday.

"I do not credit Mr. Kaleta's testimony that he 'tried ducking out of the check.' To the contrary, the video evidence demonstrates that Mr. Kaleta followed through on the check and made no attempt to avoid it," said Bettman in a release Thursday.

Kaleta was originally unpenalized for his hit to the head on Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson during the early stages of an eventual 4-1 Columbus victory, but the hit did not escape notice at the league office.

"Back-checking through the middle, Kaleta approaches Johnson from the side and finishes a check directly to Johnson's head. Although Johnson is eligible to be checked, Kaleta takes an improper angle, misses Johnson's body and does not make a full check," said Shanahan in his video explanation of the rationale behind the ban.

"It's important to note, that no matter who delivered this hit, it would have resulted in supplemental discipline. However, the fact that it was delivered by a player who has been fined or suspended six times in the last four seasons, factors heavily into the severity of the decision."

The 26-year-old winger drew a five-game suspension for an early March incident against Brad Richards of the New York Rangers after having been previously suspended multiple games on three prior occasions.

"I have concluded, based on my review of the matter that there is clear and convincing evidence to support Mr. Shanahan's determination that a 10-game suspension is the appropriate penalty in this case," added Bettman. "My conclusion is based both on the nature of the violation and, even more significantly, on Mr. Kaleta's prior disciplinary record."

Kaleta will be forced to forfeit $152,439 in salary, which goes into the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.