NEW YORK — Montreal Canadiens forward Paul Byron has been suspended three games for a hit that injured Florida Panthers defenceman MacKenzie Weegar on Tuesday night.
Byron was given a minor penalty for charging on a check that left Weegar in concussion protocol during the second period of Montreal’s 5-1 win over the visiting Panthers.
In a video explaining the suspension, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety says "Byron launches himself excessively upwards coming off the ice to deliver the hit and in the process makes significant and forceful head contact."
It marks the first suspension in Byron’s 397-game NHL career. Byron tweeted that he accepts and respects the department of player safety’s decision.
"I would like to make it clear I had no intention of causing injury or finishing my check through MacKenzie Weegar’s head," said Byron in a note posted on his verified Twitter account. "I think my history and the way I conduct myself on the ice show a lack of intent to injure other players. Despite the lack of intention, I have to accept responsibility for my hit and realize the result of the hit was to the head and caused injury.
"I would like to sincerely apologize for my hit and wish MacKenzie all the best and hope he is okay. I’ve learnt a lesson through this and will make sure any future hits result in a clean and legal fashion."
Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Byron will forfeit US$18,817.20. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Byron will miss Friday’s game in Columbus, Saturday’s home game against Philadelphia and a Jan. 23 tilt against visiting Arizona.
He’ll be eligible to return Feb. 2 against New Jersey.