Flames forward tossed for six
NHL hands down suspension for Kostopoulos hit to Red Wings defenceman
RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
|The NHL has suspended Flames forward Tom Kostopoulos for six games following his hit Friday on Red Wings defenceman Brad Stuart that left the ex-Flame with a broken jaw. CALGARY SUN FILE
It's a six-pack for Tom Kostopoulos, and he didn't enjoy the taste.
The Calgary Flames forward was handed a six-game suspension on Sunday for his hit on Detroit defenceman Brad Stuart midway through the third period of the Red Wings 5-4 shootout victory over Calgary Friday night.
He wasn't too pleased.
"I'm extremely disappointed in the league's ruling as I believe I have not done anything illegal," he said in a statement. "I'm sorry that Brad was hurt on the play, and I hope he returns to play soon, but it was never my intention to injure him, and I definitely did not target the head.
"I maintain that I delivered a legal check to an opponent playing the puck. While I am upset with the league's decision, I will serve the suspension in preparation for my return to the line-up to help my team."
Kostopoulos will also forfeit $29,569.92. He will miss all four games of the team's upcoming road trip, including clashes against former clubs Carolina and Montreal.
He's eligible to return for the Jan. 22 game in Vancouver.
Acting Flames GM Jay Feaster said he in a statement he not only disagreed with the length, but the fact he was suspended at all.
"While we are sorry the player was injured, we maintained in the hearing the hit was a legal check," Feaster said. "The player was batting at the puck, and Tom hit him in the chest and finished his check through him. He did not target the head, and we do not believe the head was the initial point of contact. We respect the difficult job Colin Campbell has to do in these situations, and we appreciate the opportunity we were afforded to present our case. However, we simply do not agree with the decision."
Campbell, the NHL's chief disciplinarian said it was a hit the head, although not from the blind side.
"Kostopoulos delivered a blow to the head of an unsuspecting and vulnerable player," Campbell said in a statement. "While the hit was not from the blindside, the head was the principle point of contact.
"The fact that Brad Stuart was not in possession of the puck when the blow was delivered and the serious nature of the player's injury were also considered in my decision."
Stuart, who was down for several minutes and left a pool and trail of blood on the ice, suffered a broken jaw and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
This is the third time Kostopoulos has been suspended. He was given a three-game banishment for a check from behind in November 2008 and also handed a one-game banishment for a late instigator infraction late in the 2007-08 season.
His fine is based on his average annual salary and the money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.