BUFFALO – The NHL slapped a 10-game suspension on Sabres agitator Patrick Kaleta on Tuesday for an illegal check to Jack Johnson’s head last week.
In banning Kaleta, NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan cited three previous suspensions and three fines, including a five-game ban for cross-checking the New York Rangers’ Brad Richards head-first into the boards just 21 games ago.
Kaleta will forfeit $153,439.00 during the suspension. The 27-year-old has already served three games and is eligible to return Nov. 2 against Anaheim. He had his in-person hearing Tuesday in New York, hours before the Sabres’ 4-3 shootout win over the Islanders, their first victory this season.
It’s not known if Kaleta will appeal.
The Angola native wasn’t penalized after zooming into the Buffalo zone and hitting Johnson high early Thursday’s 4-1 loss to Columbus. Jared Boll immediately fought Kaleta. Johnson wasn’t injured.
“Although Johnson is eligible to be checked, Kaleta takes an improper angle, misses Johnson’s body and does not make a full body check,” Shanahan said in a video explaining the suspension. “Instead, he hits Johnson directly on the chin with his left shoulder.”
Shanahan said any player, not just a repeat offender, would’ve been suspended for the hit.
Opponents detest Kaleta. The winger’s aggressive play and history of questionable hits have put him under the microscope.
Now, if he doesn’t change, he could find his career in jeopardy.
Kaleta has a long history of suspensions.
In addition to his March ban, Kaleta was shelved four games for head-butting Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek in 2011-12.
The NHL also suspended Kaleta two games in 2009-10 for hitting Philadelphia’s Jared Ross face-first into the glass from behind.
In March, shortly after the Richards incident, Kaleta said he had calmed his style down and become a more responsible player.
“The referees have came up and said, ‘Hey, we respect what you’ve done so far. As long as you keep showing respect toward us, then we’ll respect you,’” Kaleta said then.