PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf has been suspended two games for his hit from behind on Kevan Miller of the Bruins.
Phaneuf boarded Miller, who clearly had his back turned, during Toronto’s loss to Boston on Sunday night at Air Canada Centre. No boarding penalty was called on the play.
In announcing the suspension, NHL vice-president of player safety Brendan Shanahan said that Miller should never have been eligible to be hit like he was.
“At no point during his approach does Phaneuf see anything but Miller’s numbers, so the onus is on him to either avoid the hit completely or at the very least minimize it more than he does,” Shanahan said.
Miller left the game, but Claude Julien told reporters that he wasn’t worried about the defenceman’s condition. That factored into the two-game suspension, as did the fact that Phaneuf has no previous history of discipline in nine NHL seasons.
The suspension is the Leafs’ fourth during the regular season. David Clarkson got an automatic 10 games for leaving the bench to join an altercation during the pre-season, Nazem Kadri got three games for elbowing Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom in the head last month, and Carter Ashton was suspended two games for boarding Flames forward Derek Smith.
Phil Kessel was suspended three pre-season games for slashing Sabres forward John Scott during the brawl between the teams in September.
Phaneuf told reporters at the team’s practice facility in Toronto that he was not happy about the decision but had to accept it. Coach Randy Carlyle said the team had a difference of opinion with the league on the ruling.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli did not have much more than that to add.
“I accept the ruling,” he said after the board of governors meeting. “I’m just happy Miller wasn’t hurt and he’s able to play.”
Miller is expected to be in the Bruins’ lineup Tuesday night when they visit the Calgary Flames.
Phaneuf will miss the Leafs’ game against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday and their game at the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.
He’ll forfeit $66,666.66 in salary as a result of the suspension.