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Bolts' Ryan Malone avoids suspension for head hit

Montreal Canadiens' P.K. Subban takes a hit from Tampa Bay Lightning's Ryan Malone during second period NHL pre-season action Saturday.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Malone will go unpunished for a bodycheck to the head of Montreal Canadiens defenceman Chris Campoli.

Malone hit Campoli during a 5-1 loss to Montreal on Saturday. He was thrown out of the game while Campoli, in only his second appearance since signing with the Habs, left with concerns of a concussion.

NHL senior vice-president of player safety Brendan Shanahan said in a statement Monday that after, losing the puck, Campoli lunged in a way that his head became the point of contact for Malone's check.

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Shanahan called the decision his "most difficult to date."

"In the end, we felt that Malone had committed to the hit when Campoli was upright. However, when the contact was made, Campoli's head position significantly changed just prior to the hit," said Shanahan.

"There are elements about the hit that we don't like — specifically, the principal point of contact being the head and that it was not a full-body check. But the overriding factor in our judgment was that Campoli's loss of the puck and subsequent bending forward for it just prior contributed significantly, if not entirely, to those elements."

Shanahan has so far suspended nine players for a total of 31 regular-season games as the league continues to crack down on head shots.

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