BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Sabres enforcer John Scott was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Thursday.
And teammate Patrick Kaleta’s appeal to reduce his 10-game suspension was denied by league Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Scott was suspended pending a disciplinary hearing for a blindside hit to the head that levelled Boston Bruins forward Lou Eriksson in Buffalo’s 5-2 loss a day earlier.
Scott has been given the opportunity to attend an in-person hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. The hearing is offered when a suspension has the potential to exceed five games.
The news didn’t get any better for Buffalo, which is now down two roster spots because of suspended players.
Bettman issued a 17-page decision outlining why he turned down Kaleta’s appeal to reduce a 10-game ban for an illegal hit to the head on Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Jack Johnson on Oct. 10.
In supporting league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan’s initial ruling, Bettman noted Kaleta was a repeat offender, having been previously suspended three times, and added that Kaleta could have avoided hitting Johnson.
“I do conclude that he could have and should have avoided the hit altogether,” Bettman wrote. “As Mr. Shanahan testified at the hearing, ‘I think there was also the option of not throwing the check. That (is) always an option.”‘
Kaleta wasn’t penalized, and Johnson did not miss any ice time.
Kaleta has already missed six games and stands to lose $152,439 in salary. He has one last option to appeal Bettman’s ruling by taking his case to neutral discipline arbitrator James Oldham.
Scott’s suspension came after he was issued a match penalty for charging and ejected for his hit on Eriksson early in the third period of Boston’s 5-2 win Wednesday. Eriksson was skating through the neutral zone and had just dumped the puck into the Sabres zone when Scott skated in from the player’s right and struck him with a shoulder to the face.
Eriksson was dazed and didn’t return. He stayed in Buffalo overnight as a precaution.
The Bruins released a statement from general manager Peter Chiarelli, who said “he has been diagnosed with a concussion and will be out indefinitely.”
Chiarelli also said Eriksson returned to Boston earlier Thursday and was examined by team doctors.
Scott was apologetic after practice Thursday. He called it “a bad play” and added he didn’t mean to aim for Eriksson’s head.
“I kind of feel really upset,” he said, noting that he texted an apology to Eriksson. “I was sick to my stomach last night knowing what happened. And watching the video, I kind of regret the whole situation.”
The Sabres (1-9-1), off to their worst start in franchise history, made two roster moves Thursday in preparing for a two-game road swing that opens at Florida on Friday.
Fourth-line forward Cody McCormick was activated after missing two games with a leg injury.
The Sabres waived forward Kevin Porter for assignment to the minors, according to a person familiar with the move. The person informed The Associated Press of the decision on the condition of anonymity because coach Ron Rolston declined to say how the team was going to free up a roster spot to add McCormick.