NHL notes: Wisniewski suspended eight games

Wild forward Brad Staubitz pins Oilers forward Jordan Eberle at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta.,...

Wild forward Brad Staubitz pins Oilers forward Jordan Eberle at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alta., April 8, 2011. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/Reuters)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:25 PM ET

The NHL, or more specifically Brendan Shanahan, came down hard on Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman James Wisniewski Monday.

Shanahan, the league's new sheriff, handed out his stiffest suspension yet, giving Wisniewski a ban that amounts to 12 games for his hit to the head of Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck during a preseason game Friday. He was given just a minor penalty on the play.

"Wisniewski's suspension history weighed heavily into my decision, as well as the fact that he intentionally targeted a defenceless player when the play had ended," Shanahan said on a video explaining his ruling.

Wisniewski will sit out Columbus's final four preseason games and the first eight regular-season games, a sentence that will also cost him more than $536,000 in forfeited salary.

A repeat offender under the terms of the CBA, Wisniewski won't be eligible to return to the Blue Jackets until their Oct. 25 game against the Detroit Red Wings.

Wisniewski has been suspended four times since March 2008, according to Shanahan, including an eight-gamer for a hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook and a two-game ban for making a lewd gesture towards Sean Avery of the New York Rangers.

STAUBITZ GETS SEVEN

A hit from behind on Cody Bass of the Columbus Blue Jackets will force Minnesota Wild forward Brad Staubitz to sit for the next seven games, including three in the regular season.

Staubitz was handed a seven-game suspension by NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan Monday for nailing Bass during a preseason game Friday. Bass was hurt on the hit and Staubitz was given a major penalty for checking from behind.

The suspension includes Minnesota's final four preseason games -- Staubitz sat out Saturday in Pittsburgh -- and the first three games of the regular season, Oct. 8 against Columbus, Oct. 10 on Long Island and Oct. 11 in Ottawa. He also gives up more than $9,000 in pay.

ZAJAC OUT LONG-TERM

There's a good chance New Jersey Devils forward Travis Zajac won't be ready to play again before the calendar turns.

Zajac had surgery to repair his left Achilles tendon after tearing it while training in mid-August and was expected to be out at least three months. But it's more likely he'll miss somewhere in the neighbourhood of 4-6 months, which would take him into the new year.

"I guess it depends on a lot of things," Zajac told nj.com. "Being an athlete and being young, I think I should be on the lower end of that time frame. But I'm definitely not going to rush back."

Zajac will have the ankle looked at by a doctor in Winnipeg Friday. That should give him a better idea of when he'll be able to skate again.

The 26-year-old has played in 410 consecutive games, a streak that is almost certain to end when the Devils open the season against the Philadelphia Flyers Oct. 8.

KANE MOVING?

The Chicago Blackhawks are toying with the idea of moving winger Patrick Kane to centre.

'Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Kane has been playing in the middle during practices and scrimmages as he contemplates the move. Kane would also bumped off Jonathan Toews' line is the change is made.

"He's played centre most of his life," Quenneville said on NHL.com. "Defensively, he's gotten better as he's grown ... down low on the walls. It's something we're going to at least take a look at."

Toews and David Bolland are the only true centres with NHL experience on the roster. Kane started his NHL career as a centre in 2008.

CLEM GOES DOWN

Florida Panthers backup goalie Scott Clemmensen had what the team is describing as minor knee surgery Monday.

Clemmensen had an MRI done Sunday then went under the knife Monday at Doctors Hospital in Miami. He's expected to be out for 4-6 weeks, leaving the Panthers with no experienced backup to starter Jose Theodore.

"We think very highly of all the goaltenders in our organization and that's why losing Clemmer is a tough deal for us," Dineen said on the team's website. "He's worked hard all summer and I know he's disappointed right now, but I know that the month of October will slide right by and he'll be back before we know it."

Dineen had the same procedure done three weeks ago and was back skating when training camp started so it's possible Clemmensen won't miss much of the regular season.

BRIEFLY

Former San Jose Sharks forward Jonathan Cheechoo is headed back to the AHL for a second season. The St. Louis Blues sent the one-time 56-goal scorer to their minor-league affiliate in Peoria. He had 18 goals and 29 assists in 55 games with Worcester last season ... Owen Nolan's comeback attempt was cut short when he was released by the Vancouver Canucks late Sunday. Nolan played 24 games with Zurich of the Swiss league last season ... Detroit Red Wings prospect Jan Mursak broke his left ankle when he landed awkwardly along the boards during Sunday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks. The 23-year-old, who played 19 games with the Wings last season, is expected to be out at least eight weeks ... The New Jersey Devils will retire Scott Niedermayer's No. 27 during a pre-game ceremony Dec. 16. Niedermayer played with the Devils for 12 years, winning the Stanley Cup three times ... Demolition of the arena the Pittsburgh Penguins once called home started Monday. Work on taking down the Civic Arena, known as the Igloo, will continue until May ... Vancouver Canucks defenceman Aaron Rome broken a finger and forward Steve Pinizzotto dislocated a shoulder during Sunday's game against the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks haven't said how long either will be out of the lineup.


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