Pittsburgh forward James Neal was suspended for five games on Monday by the NHL's department of player safety for kneeing Boston's Brad Marchand in the head in the Penguins-Bruins game on Saturday.
Neal had a telephone hearing with the league and five games is the maximum penalty allowed when it is a phone hearing. Marchand had been tripped and was down on the ice when the contact occurred. Neal told reporters after the game that it was not intentional.
But the department of player safety thought the collision could have been avoided.
"With a clear view of Marchand and plenty of time to avoid him, Neal skates directly through Marchand's head with his left knee," said the NHL's chief disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan, via the league's video announcement.
"[W]hile Neal does not kick or violently thrust his leg toward Marchand, it is our belief after reviewing this incident that this is more serious than simply not avoiding contact with a fallen player.
"While looking down directly at Marchand, Neal turns his skates and extends his left leg, ensuring that contact is made with Marchand's head."
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