NHL suspends Wings' Niklas Kronwall for Game 7 vs. Lightning

TAMPA, Fla. -- Veteran Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall has been suspended for Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.

The NHL's department of player safety announced the decision Tuesday night.

Kronwall said Wednesday that he didn't think he deserved the suspension, but that there wasn't anything he could do concerning the decision.

"It's hard to describe, really," Kronwall said. "I still don't really know how to feel, to be honest with you. I still haven't really grasped it, I think. The decision has been made and I have to live with it.

"I disagree with the decision. I feel like it happened a little bit different way than what they feel, but that's how it is. I did something to put them in the situation where they could make the final call. Any way you look at it, that's on me."

Kronwall crushed Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov with a high hit in the second period of Game 6 on Monday. He was not penalized on the play, and Kucherov returned to the game in the third period.

The league's disciplinarian handed down the ban after deeming the hit a charge. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock each took issue with the ruling.

"My only comment is I disagree with the decision," Holland said in a text to ESPN.

Babcock said he was surprised by the suspension but that "it doesn't matter what I think."

"When the hit's there, you make the hit," Babcock said. "I don't think anybody's trying to hurt anybody at any time. I think you're trying to be hard. The playoffs are hard. All you have to do is look at every series and look what's going on out there."

This is the first suspension for the hard-hitting blueliner, who said of the ruling: "Obviously, not one of the best moments of my life."

Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader had said he considered the play in question to be legal.

"I'm not going to discuss the hit. I saw it in real time. I thought it was OK," Abdelkader said before the suspension was handed down. "That's up to the league so there's no point in me commenting."

"He's our leader on defense and a leader in our locker room. It would be a big loss, but we have guys that are capable of stepping in."