NEW YORK (AP) — The NHL came down hard Monday on a pair of players for illegal hits in a game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild.
Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski was suspended for the rest of the preseason and the first eight regular-season games for a right-arm blow to the head of Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck after the horn sounded at the end of regulation in Friday's game.
Wild forward Brad Staubitz was suspended the rest of the preseason and the first three regular-season games for an illegal check from behind that sent Columbus' Cody Bass into the glass.
Wisniewski will also forfeit $536,585.36 in salary, an amount determined because he is classified as a repeat offender. Last season, while playing for the New York Islanders, he was suspended for two games because of an obscene gesture he made toward Sean Avery during a game. Two seasons ago, while playing for Anaheim, he was docked eight games for knocking Brent Seabrook out of a game.
Wisniewski, who signed a six-year, $33 million contract with the Blue Jackets on July 1, was assessed a minor penalty for his illegal hit. He will be eligible to return for Columbus' Oct. 25 game against Detroit.
"I found out about it between periods. It was a tough one to swallow," Columbus coach Scott Arniel said after the Blue Jackets' game at Washington. "Obviously, the league has a mandate, and they're trying to really set a tone here early on in the season, and it was harsh. It was very harsh.
"It was a lot harsher than I was expecting, but there's not much we can do about it. We've got to move forward — they've made their decision. We've already put our best foot forward when it came to our side of the story, and obviously the league felt that, being a repeat offender, a blow to the head, that was the call that needed to be made."
Staubitz, who was given a major penalty and game misconduct for his check on Bass, will lose $9,324.33 in the punishments handed out by Brendan Shanahan, the league's new senior vice president of player safety.
Staubitz will be eligible to return Oct. 13 when the Wild host Edmonton.
"You've just got to be conscious all the time of what you're doing. It's tough. You've got to play hard, especially in the role that I'm in," Staubitz said Monday after practice, before the punishment was levied. "It's a narrow line."