Rangers' Kovalev draws suspension for shot on Hunter


UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The NHL suspended New York Rangers right wing Alexei Kovalev, pending a hearing today, for a cheap shot that injured Washington Capitals center Dale Hunter on Sunday.

Kovalev skated up behind Hunter and used his left skate to knock Hunter's legs out from under him. When Hunter fell, he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee. He will be out up to six weeks.

Hunter was in his second game back after completing a 21-game suspension for his own cheap shot on New York Islander Pierre Turgeon in last spring's playoffs.

While no statement was issued by NHL senior vice president Brian Burke, who is in charge of league discipline, league spokesman Arthur Pincus said Kovalev's suspension from last night's Rangers game with the New Jersey Devils indicates Kovalev's action was determined to have been deliberate.

Today's hearing is to determine the length of the suspension.

"We don't know the length of the suspension yet," Capitals coach Terry Murray said, "but no matter what it is -- one, two or five games, it clearly won't bring back Dale. I'll still be without a real key player for a long time."

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