Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal has been suspended five games by the NHL Department of Player Safety, the league on Monday afternoon. The suspension is the maximum allotment under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement for a phone hearing, which Neal participated in on Monday morning.
The suspension was levied as the result of Neal kneeing Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand during Friday night's game. Marchand was lying on the ice while Neal skated by and connected with the fallen Bruins' head. Neal insisted in post-game interviews that the contact was unintentional and that he was not attempting to injure Marchand. The Department of Player Safety clearly disagrees.
Neal will be eligible to return to the Pittsburgh lineup on Dec. 19 when the Penguins host the Minnesota Wild.
The Department of Player Safety still have to hold an in-person meeting with Bruins forward Shawn Thornton for his actions against Penguins defender Brooks Orpik. The date of that hearing has yet to be determined.