Canadiens' Max Pacioretty suspended three games
By Mike Brehm, USA TODAY
Updated 11h 13m ago
The NHL suspended Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty three games for a hit to the head.
He hit Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang during Saturday's game, breaking his nose, in the third period. Letang returned in overtime and scored the winning goal.
Letang was crossing the blue line and taking a shot when Pacioretty approached him. Though NHL senior vice president Brendan Shanahan said that players in that part of the ice can expect to be checked hard, they shouldn't have to worry about a hit to the head.
"In spite of the fact that Letang is in a shooting motion, Letang's head does not significantly change position prior to or simultaneous with the hit, placing the onus on Pacioretty to make sure he does not make Letang's head the principal point of contact," Shanahan said in his explanatory video.
He noted that Pacioretty shifted his weight, making a head hit more likely.
Pacioretty will forfeit $26,351.34 in pay and be eligible to return on Dec. 6.
He is the Canadiens' leading goal scorer with 10 and is second on the team with 19 points. He had a goal and assist in the game before the hit, which went unpenalized.
Letang was examined Monday and skated afterward. He hopes to play Tuesday night.
Pacioretty suffered a concussion and a fractured neck vertebra last season when checked into the edge of a glass partition by Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara. That play didn't draw a suspension.
Since then, Pacioretty has been involved in the cause of head injuries. Earlier this month, he started a foundation to raise funds so Montreal General Hospital can buy a type of MRI that more accurately measures brain injuries.