By John Vogl
RALEIGH, N.C. -- With a disciplinary hearing coming at 3 p.m., the Sabres' Patrick Kaleta declined to get into specifics regarding Sunday's boarding penalty on the Rangers' Brad Richards. But he said this afternoon he feels like a "bag of garbage" for taking a penalty that led to two goals in the Sabres' 3-2 shootout loss, and he had nothing to say to Richards.
"I’m going to keep it as limited as I can, but I’m just sorry for the position I put the team in trying to kill that penalty," Kaleta said in the team hotel. "I feel for that, for putting the penalty killers out there and them getting the two goals. It makes me feel like a bag of garbage after seeing that.
"But I’m glad that our team responded with that. I’m proud of it and just going to go forward."
The Sabres were a man down when Kaleta cross-checked Richards in the back, sending one of the NHL's marquee players crashing into the boards. Kaleta was given a five-minute boarding major and ejected from the game.
"I was on the penalty kill, so on the penalty kill you’re playing a zone, you’re not really supposed to finish check, etcetera," Kaleta said. "I just play hard, and I was on the penalty kill trying to do my job."
The Rangers railed against Kaleta following the game, calling the hit "disgusting" and "stupidity" while condemning the right winger for repeated infractions through the years. Kaleta has made a point during the past two seasons of trying to clean up his image.
"I have changed my game," Kaleta said. "I know I have. I know players have seen that, and even referees have came up said, ‘Hey, I respect what you’ve done so far. As long as you keep showing that respect towards us, then we’ll respect you.’
"I loved hearing that and know that they’ve seen a change in my game, so I know I’ve changed my game."
Still, the right winger is in line for a suspension of at least one game and possibly five when he talks with discipline czar Brendan Shanahan over the phone today.
He had nothing to say to Richards, though, taking an eight-second pause after being asked if he had a message for the recipient of the hit.
"I’m fine for right now," Kaleta finally said.