VANCOUVER – Vancouver Canucks defenceman Mattias Ohlund was remorseful after the NHL handed him a four-game suspension Sunday for a vicious slash on Minnesota Wild forward Mikko Koivu.
Ohlund struck Koivu in the back of the left leg at 16:06 of the third period in Friday’s 6-2 win over Minnesota. Koivu suffered a fractured left fibula on the play and will miss at least a week.
Ohlund said Koivu elbowed him in the face, but he regrets reacting.
“The elbow to the face, I don’t think it was a very good play from his part, but looking back I wish I would have done something different than I did,” said Ohlund.
He won’t be eligible to return until Nov. 25 at home against Chicago. That’s bad news for a Canucks team already missing key blue-liners Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo. Bieksa will miss another four-to-six weeks with a lacerated right calf while Salo is out indefinitely with a broken nose.
“It doesn’t matter if I agree or not,” said Ohlund, who has three goals with three assists while averaging 23:33 of ice time. “I got four games, and I’ll do my best with the situation.”
Like Ohlund, Vancouver GM Dave Nonis said he respects the league’s decision. Nonis declined to discuss what occurred in the hearing process, which was conducted by phone.
“It was the league’s decision,” said Nonis. “We’re obviously going to live by it and respect the job that they have to do.”
As a result of the suspension, rearguard Lukas Krajicek returned to the Vancouver lineup Sunday against Calgary after being out since Nov. 1 with an ankle injury.
“It was probably a little earlier than we would have liked, and he didn’t get a whole lot of practice under his belt,” said Nonis.
Koivu has five goals with 11 assists in 19 games for the Wild.
Ohlund will forfeit US$74,866.32 in salary, with the money going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.