Patrick Kaleta crosscheck: Sabres forward to have phone hearing with NHL

Bruce Bennett

Kaleta will face a maximum suspension of five games after his crosscheck that sent Brad Richards head-first into the boards.

Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta will face a phone hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety on Monday afternoon following his check from behind that sent the Rangers' Brad Richards head first into the boards.

Early in the third period on Sunday, Richards and Kaleta were chasing down a puck that had gone to the near boards. As Richards was stopping while playing the puck, Kaleta gave enough of a check into Richards' lower back that the Rangers' forward was sent face-first into the boards.

Kaleta was assessed a boarding major and game misconduct for the hit.

"No need for it," Richards would state after the game. "That's not a hit that was ever in the game, I don't think. That's a little different than (a) headshot. That's just stupidity. It's not hockey. I don't know what game he plays, actually. He doesn't play hockey to begin with. It's the same guy all the time."

Richards stayed on the ice for several minutes but would eventually return to the game, with the Rangers winning 3-2 on a shootout. The hit has sparked a considerable amount of controversy, considering that in the past this type of play by Kaleta might have been overlooked or even met with maybe a one-game suspension.

It was reckless play in a dangerous area, but also one that has happened countless times before. Clouding things is Kaleta's history with being disciplined by the NHL and is considered a repeat offender since his last suspension was less than 18 months ago.

The phone hearing means that Kaleta will face a maximum hearing of five games; any suspension over six games requires an in-person hearing and would then be open to player appeal, which would then go to an independent arbitrator.

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