Oilers defenceman Andy Sutton suspended eight games by NHL for illegal hit

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Edmonton Oilers defenceman Andy Sutton has been suspended eight games for an illegal hit.

The six-foot-six Sutton was punished for an incident from Wednesday’s game against Carolina when he jumped while throwing a bodycheck on Alexei Ponikarovsky.

He left the Hurricanes winger woozy on the play.

“While we acknowledge that on many big body checks a hitter’s feet may at times come off the ice to a certain degree, we felt the degree in which Sutton’s skates come off the ice is excessive,” NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan said in a video statement.

It’s the second significant suspension of the season for Sutton, who was banned five games on Nov. 1 for hitting Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog in the head.

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Shanahan cited Sutton’s earlier suspension in the statement.

“(Sutton) also has been fined and suspended several times for similar incidents over his 13-year NHL career,” said Shanahan. “We’ve also taken into account that Ponikarovsky suffered no apparent injury on the play.”

As a repeat offender, the veteran defenceman will forfeit US$207,317 in salary.

Sutton will be eligible to return for Edmonton’s game in Chicago on Jan. 2.

The suspension matches the stiffest penalty handed out by Shanahan since he became the disciplinarian prior to the season.