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NHL suspends Cody McLeod, Michael Grabner for head hits

On a busy day for the NHL’s Player Safety Department, Colorado Avalanche forward Cody McLeod was suspended five games for a boarding infraction against Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall last week.

Brendan Shanahan, head of the department that monitors player safety and metes out discipline, explained in a video that accompanied the league’s announcement that the decision to suspend McLeod — who had no prior suspensions — took many factors into account. One of them was that Kronwall was not seriously hurt and has been skating with the Red Wings.

Shanahan also said he considered the point that Kronwall might have put himself in a vulnerable position by cutting back against the boards and lowering his head. Shanahan added, “We’re convinced that McLeod has time to avoid or minimize checking Kronwall from behind.” Shanahan also said McLeod “makes an adjustment in his own path and is responsible for the violent collision that results.”

McLeod will forfeit $29,487.20 to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Also on Monday, the NHL suspended New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner two games for an illegal hit to the head of Carolina’s Nathan Gerbe last week.

The league had announced earlier Monday that Dallas Stars forward Ryan Garbutt has been invited to an in-person hearing regarding his hit to the head of Ducks winger Dustin Penner on Sunday. An in-person hearing means the league has the option to suspend the offending player for more than five games. Penner was briefly knocked unconscious and did not accompany the Ducks when they traveled to Toronto on Monday to begin an eight-game trip.

And one more: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was scheduled on Monday to hear an appeal by Buffalo enforcer Patrick Kaleta of the 10-game suspension Shanahan had imposed for Kaleta’s hit to the head of Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson on Oct. 15. If the suspension is upheld, Kaleta can then take his case to a neutral arbitrator.


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