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Hockey Leafs’ Leo Komarov suspended three games for hit on Ryan McDonagh

New York Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh lays injured on the ice after taking a hit to the head by Toronto Maple Leafs centre Leo Komarov during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Thursday, February 18, 2016.

Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The NHL has suspended Leo Komarov three games for his hit to the head of Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh, an action the Toronto Maple Leafs forward says he's sorry for.

Komarov will forfeit US $47,580.66 to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund and will be eligible to return for Toronto's Feb. 27 game at Montreal.

Komarov ranks third in the NHL with 245 hits this season. He has not been suspended previously despite some close calls and says he won't alter his game as a result of the McDonagh hit.

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"I'm not trying to hurt people, I'm just hitting," said Komarov. "Sometimes it goes like it goes."

Komarov, the Maple Leafs' leading scorer and hitter, went through a phone hearing with the NHL's department of player safety on Friday afternoon for an illegal check to the head of McDonagh. The 29-year-old struck McDonagh with his left elbow late in the first period of a Thursday evening game between Toronto and New York.

Komarov drew a match penalty for the hit and was ejected while McDonagh sat out the final two periods for "precautionary reasons".

"I hope he's okay," Komarov said Friday afternoon, moments before he spoke with the league. "I feel sorry for my teammates because I let them down — I got five minutes there — and I feel real sorry about Ryan, too."

Komarov had not reached out to McDonagh as of Friday afternoon.

Leafs head coach Mike Babcock described the situation as "unfortunate" given the potential injury to McDonagh, who returned from a concussion one night before the incident with Komarov. Still, he contended that Komarov played the game hard and never intended to hurt his opponents.

"There was no intent or malice in anything that happened," Babcock said. "It was a hockey play in a hockey game, but the league and the players' union, they have a stand on this stuff and they should."

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"I hope he's okay," Komarov added. "Can't really say anything more right now."

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