Patrick Kaleta has a history of suspensions. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Sabres’ Patrick Kaleta has suspension appeal denied; Kevin Porter waived

BUFFALO – In a strongly worded 19-page document released Thursday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman rejected Sabres winger Patrick Kaleta’s appeal of his 10-game suspension.

Kaleta, who’s been suspended four times in the last four seasons, including twice in his last 21 games, hit Columbus’ Jack Johnson in the head Oct. 10.

Clearly, Bettman wants to send Kaleta a message.

Kaleta, Bettman wrote, “has demonstrated a total disregard for the safety of other players, and, in particular, their heads.”

The frequency of the head hits “leads inexorably to the conclusion that Mr. Kaleta has not responded adequately to the progressive discipline that has been meted out to him thus far,” he wrote.

Bettman also wrote: “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.”

The NHL Players’ Association argued, among other things, a “material change” to position on Johnson’s body “significantly contributed to the head contact.”

Sabres general manager Darcy Regier and others said Johnson’s head wasn’t avoidable as Kaleta zoomed into the Columbus zone early in the Blue Jackets’ 4-1 win.

Kaleta, who will serve his seventh game tonight when the Sabres play the Florida Panthers, is deciding whether to appeal again through a neutral arbitrator, according to TSN.

With forward Cody McCormick set to return from a two-game absence after blocking a shot, the hapless Sabres waived Kevin Porter to create room on the 23-man roster Thursday.

Porter was pointless in nine games this season. The 27-year-old center will report to Rochester if he clears. He had 15 goals and 44 points in 48 AHL games with the Americans last season.

Meanwhile, winger Ville Leino, out since cracking a rib opening night, accompanied the Sabres on their two-game Florida trip and could return soon.

Rookie winger Joel Armia, out since breaking his hand during the preseason, is just starting to use a stick again, Sabres coach Ron Rolston said. The Finn’s still a week or two away from playing.

Rolston said backup goalie Jhonas Enroth will play either tonight or Saturday in Tampa Bay.

Rolston on the rebuilding 1-9-1 team’s plan: “We’ve had the same plan the whole time in terms of what we’ve talked about in terms of playing younger players. We’ve committed to that, and that’s what we’re doing right now. We’ve continued to put the young guys in there and go along with the plan that we have.”

Six rookies are currently on the roster, including four teenagers, the most the Sabres have since 1995-96, when five played.

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