by Amy Moritz
Gary Bettmen issued his ruling today, upholding the 10-game suspension of Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta.
Kaleta was appealing his suspension, originally issued by director of player safety Brendan Shanahan, for an illegal check to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson on Oct. 10.
In his complete ruling, Bettman wrote:
“The only question raised on appeal is whether such contact to the head was fairly considered “avoidable.” I find that there is clear and convincing evidence to support Mr. Shanahan’s conclusion that the contact to Mr. John’s head was avoidable and, in fact, should have been avoided.”
“Regrettably, Mr. Kaleta stands out for his repeated violations of – and seeming indifference to – the Playing Rules put in place to protect other Players, and, particularly, other Players’ heads.”
Considered a repeat offender under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Kaleta will forfeit $152,439. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. Kaleta has the option to appeal this decision to an independent arbitrator. This is a new feature of the collective bargaining agreement and the players’ association has not yet tested this clause.