Patrick Kaleta banned 5 games

NEW YORK -- Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta has been suspended for five games for his hit on New York Rangers forward Brad Richards, the league announced Monday evening. The decision was handed down after Kaleta's 3 p.m. phone hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety.

League disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan assessed Kaleta the maximum ban allowed a player with a phone hearing. Any suspension six games or longer requires the player be given the right to an in-person meeting.

Kaleta shoved Richards into the boards face-first at 3:28 of the third period of the Sabres' 3-2 shootout loss to the Rangers. Richards went sprawling into the boards, hitting his head and neck before falling to the ice in obvious distress. Kaleta earned a checking from behind major penalty and a game misconduct for the play.

In reviewing the play on a video posted on the league's website, Shanahan noted Kaleta shoved a defenseless player from behind. He added, "Kaleta is in full control of this play, and has ample opportunity to make a better decision."

Kaleta, who's been suspended twice before, will forfeit $76,219.25 in salary.

Richards, who was down on the ice for several minutes before returning to the game Sunday, did not practice Monday with the Rangers, though coach John Tortorella said, "He'll be fine."

After the game on Sunday, Tortorella blasted Kaleta for his actions.

Tortorella called the hit "disgusting," while Richards questioned Kaleta's place in the game.

"I don't know what game he plays, actually," Richards said Sunday, still grimacing in pain after the game. "He doesn't play hockey to begin with. Same guy, all the time."

Kaleta, who declined to speak with reporters following Sunday's game, spoke to local reporters in Buffalo on Monday before the hearing and defended his actions.

"I just play hard, and I was on the penalty kill trying to do my job," Kaleta said, according to the Buffalo News.

Kaleta also told the Buffalo News that he felt like a "bag of garbage," although it was not for his hit on Richards, but rather that he put his team in a shorthanded situation.

When asked if he cared to offer a message to Richards, Kaleta declined.

"I'm good for now," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.