On Monday afternoon, as he waited to have a phone hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety for his boarding of Brad Richards, Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta kind of explained to reporters the hit from his point of view, "I was on the penalty kill, so on the penalty kill you’re playing a zone, you’re not really supposed to finish check, etcetera. I just play hard, and I was on the penalty kill trying to do my job."
That "job" has earned him a five-game suspension beginning Tuesday night against Carolina, as Brendan Shanahan explains:
From the NHL:
Kaleta is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Based on his average annual salary, he will forfeit $76,219.25. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
Kaleta was last suspended in Nov. 2011 for a headbutt on Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers, and his repeat offender status didn't help whatever case he attempted to plead to the DOPS.
One of the DOPS goals in both doling out punishment and educating players is to change behavior when it comes to potentially dangerous hits. As Shanahan states in the video, Kaleta controlled the play and could have easily attempted to tie Richards up and not shove him from a distance away from the boards.
In his meeting with the media on Monday, Kaleta talked about how he's changed his game over the past two seasons, citing opponents and referees noting a difference. The next time he faces a situation to either tie up or shove a player near the boards, the DOPS' hope is that he chooses the former going forward.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy