By Mike Harrington
Patrick Kaleta has appealed his 10-game suspension and the Sabres are waiting to find out when his appeal process will be heard. Tonight's game against Vancouver will already be his fourth one out of the lineup. Fellow Sabres agitator Steve Ott said the issue he's had with Brendan Shanahan's ruling is that Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson was not hurt on the play and went on to get 23 minutes of ice time in the Oct. 10 game against the Sabres.
"It's hard because there's no injury on the play," Ott told The News today after the Sabres' pregame skate. "I have a hard time with it for that simple fact. Is it suspendable? Absolutely, as in the guy could have really been hurt. But could have is not good enough for me.
"No one wants to see anybody injured by any means but that has to play in the equation if you're going to throw a book at somebody. He didn't even fall. Could it have been bad? Sure. For me, the injury has to play into the situation."
That said, Ott acknowledged my theory that Kaleta could be at a career crossroads much like the one Matt Cooke hit when he was with Pittsburgh. Cooke, in fact, told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun yesterday in Toronto that he spoke with Kaleta late Monday night after the Sabres-Wild game and told him he'd be available to talk about how he dealt with his own situation at any point in the future.
"I'd rather have to tone down a player than try to raise him up," Ott said. "That's huge. If it's the essence of keeping him in the lineup, maybe you have to town him down a little bit but we need Patty to play hard minutes. And let's be honest here: Every other team in the league would like to have a Patty Kaleta out there. Every team has a guy that plays hard that way. You can tone down somebody. You can't tone them back up. What way would you rather have it?"
Kaleta was on the ice in today's morning skate wearing a full face shield as a result of the ensuing fight after the hit with Columbus' Jared Boll. The Sabres said they will make him available to the media after the timetable for his appeal is established, perhaps as soon as tomorrow.