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Leafs' Clarkson gets 10 games for leaving bench

AP - Sports
Leafs' Clarkson gets 10 games for leaving bench
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Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs pile-up during the third period of an NHL hockey preseason hockey game in Toronto, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Toronto forward David Clarkson was suspended 10 regular-season games without pay for leaving the bench to take part in a fight during the Maple Leafs' game against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night.

Clarkson's automatic suspension, which also includes the rest of the preseason, results from the game misconduct penalty he received for joining the brawl during the third period of Toronto's 5-3 win over Buffalo. The NHL announced the discipline on Monday night.

A mismatched fight that saw Toronto's Jamie Devane have the upper hand over Buffalo's Corey Tropp sparked the melee.

John Scott then dropped his gloves to tangle with Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel, who didn't engage the Buffalo enforcer and instead swung his stick at Scott's ankles to fend him off.

Scott is 6-foot-8 and 270 pounds, while Kessel goes 6-0, 202 pounds.

The Maple Leafs quickly moved in to protect their teammate - including Clarkson coming off the bench - and the melee was on. The Maple Leafs' Jonathan Bernier and Sabres' Ryan Miller capped the proceedings with a goaltender bout. They exchanged punches away from the main scrum as the Air Canada Centre crowd roared its approval.

When order was finally restored, gloves, sticks and equipment were strewn across the ice and the benches were depleted. When all was said and done, the teams combined for 239 penalty minutes.

A mildly interesting preseason game suddenly had hockey fans circling Nov. 15 on their calendars for when the Atlantic Division rivals next meet.

Clarkson signed a $36.75 million, seven-year contract with Toronto in the offseason and will forfeit $269,230.80 of his salary. He is eligible to make his Leafs debut Oct. 25 at Columbus.

Kessel, who was issued a match penalty, was likely to receive discipline for his stickwork.

The NHL also suspended Vancouver Canucks forward Zack Kassian for five regular-season games and the rest of preseason for a hit that broke the jaw of Edmonton forward Sam Gagner on Saturday.

Kassian collided with Gagner along the boards in the second period of the Oilers' 5-2 home exhibition win over Vancouver. Kassian's stick struck Gagner's face, knocking out several of the Edmonton forward's teeth.

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