Suspension expected for Flame Kostopoulos

WES GILBERTSON , QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:08 PM ET

Tom Kostopoulos will likely miss his first outing against his former team.

The Calgary Flames winger is expected to be suspended for Tuesday's clash with the Carolina Hurricanes — and probably longer — after a high hit that left Detroit Red Wings defenceman Brad Stuart with a broken jaw.

The NHL has confirmed it is reviewing the incident, which happened in the third period of Friday's 5-4 shootout loss to the Red Wings at the Saddledome. ESPN's Pierre LeBrun is reporting Kostopoulos has waived his right to an in-person hearing, a sure sign he'll be punished for the play.

After helping prevent Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen from cashing in on a two-on-two rush, Stuart had his head down and was searching for a loose puck when he was bowled over by Kostopoulos.

The Flames forward was slapped with a minor penalty for roughing, while Stuart needed attention from the Red Wings training staff and left a trail of blood as he was helped off the ice.

After the game, team officials revealed the smooth-skating blueliner would miss an extended period of time after what Red Wings bench boss Mike Babcock characterized as a “blindside hit to the head.”

“Uncalled for. Unneeded. Disappointing," Babcock said. “I would assume they'll look at it and I would assume he'll be suspended. You're supposed to protect the good players in the league, and (Stuart) is a good player. I would have no problem if the guy buries him and he's swinging at the puck, but you don't hit him in the head.

“There's no reason for that. It's disappointing.”

In his post-game remarks, Flames head coach Brent Sutter declined comment on the hit, saying he hadn't had a chance to watch video replay of the incident.

It'll be a busy day for NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell. Atlanta Thrashers forward Ben Eager was suspended Saturday morning for his punch on unsuspecting Toronto Maple Leafs winger Colby Armstrong. Eager was assessed a match penalty on the play and will sit for four games.

Kostopoulos served a three-game suspension in November 2008 after a check-from-behind. He was also suspended at the end of the 2007-08 campaign, handed an automatic one-game ban for instigating a fight late in a game.

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca


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