Fourth-line winger Ryan Hollweg soon will find himself playing on no line if he continues to hit people from behind.
Hollweg acknowledged as much yesterday when asked about the three-game suspension he received from the NHL for hitting St. Louis Blues defenceman Alex Pietrangelo from behind on Monday in Toronto's 5-4 shootout loss.
"I guess I just have to be more careful ... and change my game a little bit," said Hollweg, who spoke to the media yesterday for the first time since the NHL announced the suspension on Tuesday. "I'm a hard-working guy and I'm always going 100% full out. I'm not intending to hurt anybody. I'm just a guy who goes hard into the boards, hard into the corners and tries to come out with the puck.
"It's my nature to play that way, so it's hard not to play that way,"
NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell warned that the league will be keeping an eye on Hollweg, who had just finished serving a two-game suspension for hitting from behind, prior to Monday's match against the Blues.
While acknowledging that he has to change his game somewhat, Hollweg also said there is a "double standard" as to how the league views hits he delivers, and hits delivered by other players.
"Obviously there are not going to be any breaks given my way," said Hollweg, who previously played three seasons with the New York Rangers.
"I've seen many incidents that are much worse than that, that were never called. So there's definitely a double standard.
"But I have to blame myself for that. I brought it on myself and nobody else can do anything about it other than me."
Hollweg said that you don't have to look any further than two hits from behind issued by Montreal defenceman Mike Komisarek in Toronto's 6-1 loss to the Habs at the ACC on Saturday night, and one hit on Matt Stajan in particular.
"If you ask me, that hit should have warranted a game misconduct as well. "I think that was probably a worse hit than the one I got penalized for," Hollweg said, adding that he will have to figure out how to play aggressively, but clean, realizing that Big Brother will be watching him closely.
"I'm going to have that eye on me and I'm not going to get any breaks," he said.
Hollweg said he didn't mean to hit Pietrangelo from behind, but said the St. Louis player turned at the last moment.
Hollweg is not a goal scorer (he has five NHL goals in 201 games), but he is a valuable player in terms of forechecking and delivering key hits. Given that, the Leafs vow to be patient with the Downey, Ca., native, though head coach Ron Wilson is losing a bit of patience.
"There seems to be no filter and we have to find a way to put in an effective filter in there," Wilson said.
"When he looks up and he sees a guy's numbers, he should be really thinking about pulling up. But it's up to him to figure that out or he won't be playing many games."