Rene Bourque suspended five games

Calgary Flames left wing Rene Bourque has been suspended for five games for hitting the Washington Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom in the head with his elbow, the NHL announced Thursday.

As a repeat offender under the terms of the league's collective bargaining agreement, Bourque was fined $203,252, which will go to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund. He was suspended two games last month for a hit on Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks.

"I acknowledge my mistake, regret my action and take full responsibility. I accept the decision rendered by Brendan Shanahan on behalf of the League," Bourque said in a statement Thursday. "I apologize to my teammates, the Flames organization and to Niklas Backstrom. I am embarrassed for what I did. These are exactly the type of plays that need to be eliminated from hockey."

Bourque was assessed a minor penalty for the hit, which came in the third period of the Capitals' 3-1 win on Tuesday. He will be eligible to return for the Flames' Jan. 17 game at San Jose.

Backstrom, who was able to skate two more shifts before leaving the game, is still being monitored by the Capitals. Coach Dale Hunter said Wednesday that Backstrom "seems fine, but he's still got to be evaluated."

Bourque had a disciplinary hearing Wednesday morning with NHL officials. The hearing was conducted via phone, not in person, meaning that under the terms of the CBA, he could not be suspended more than five games.

The Capitals don't play again until they open a road trip Saturday at San Jose.

If Backstrom has a concussion and is out for an extended time, it would be major setback for the Capitals, who have started to play better recently. Backstrom leads the team with 42 points.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.