Edmonton Oilers defenceman Andy Sutton was suspended for five games on Tuesday by NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.
The two met at the league's office in New York for a hearing about Sutton's check to the head of Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog.
Sutton delivered an elbow to Landeskog's head in the third period of Edmonton's 3-1 victory Friday. The Oilers' defenceman was assessed a minor penalty for elbowing on the play.
“At the moment of impact, it's clear that the head is the principal point of contact and has been recklessly targeted,” said Shanahan in a video on NHL.com that explains the suspension. “Landeskog is looking back for the pass and rotates his head, but the position of his head does not dramatically change.”
Shanahan and the department of player safety examined Sutton's disciplinary history while making its decision.
“We've also taken into consideration that although Sutton has played a physical game over his 14 years, he's been fined and suspended for various illegal checks,” said Shanahan.
Sutton, who forfeits US$57,432.45 in salary with the money going to the players' emergency assistance fund, defended himself in a statement.
“I have been informed of and understand the league's decision, however, I had no intention of delivering an illegal check,” said Sutton. “For 14 years, I've always played the game with respect and integrity and I will continue to do so when I return.”
The Edmonton defenceman sat out Sunday's 4-2 win over the St. Louis Blues while the NHL made its decision.