By John Vogl
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Patrick Kaleta has been suspended for five games for boarding the New York Rangers' Brad Richards on Sunday night.
It is the longest suspension for the Buffalo Sabres forward, who earned a four-game sitdown for head-butting last season and also had a two-game suspension for boarding in 2009.
"In spite of the fact that Kaleta does not shove Richards with great force, he does so at extremely dangerous distance from the boards," said Brendan Shanahan, who is in charge of NHL discipline and held a 3 p.m. phone hearing with Kaleta. "Richards does not turn his back just prior or make any sudden movements that contribute to this illegal check. Kaleta is in full control of this play and has ample opportunity to make a better decision."
Kaleta will miss games in Carolina on Tuesday, New Jersey on Thursday and Philadelphia on Sunday, a home game against the Rangers on March 12 and a visit by Ottawa on March 16.
The forced absence will cost Kaleta $76,219.25 in salary.
Richards, who returned to the game after briefly heading to the dressing room, did not practice today. Rangers coach John Tortorella expects him to be fine, however.
Thomas Vanek, who missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, is expected to return against the Hurricanes and take Kaleta's lineup spot.