Arbitrator upholds 8-game suspension for Colorado Avalanche's Nazem Kadri

Nazem Kadri's eight-game suspension has been upheld by a neutral arbitrator, the NHL and NHL Players' Association announced Tuesday.

The Colorado Avalanche center is eligible to return for a potential Game 7 of the second-round series against the Vegas Golden Knights. The series is tied 2-2, with Game 5 on Tuesday in Denver.

Kadri, whom the NHL called "a player with a substantial disciplinary record" in its initial ruling, was suspended in the first round after delivering a "high, forceful check" to St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk's head on May 21. Kadri, 30, has been suspended six times, including three times in the playoffs.

Commissioner Gary Bettman upheld the suspension, leaving the decision to a neutral arbitrator, Shyam Das. In his decision Tuesday, Das wrote that the NHL was correct to suspend Kadri.

Das has been a labor arbitrator since the 1970s and previously worked with MLB. He has ruled in the NHLPA's favor in the past. In 2018, Das was the neutral arbitrator who decided to reduce Capitals forward Tom Wilson's suspension from 20 to 14 games for a preseason hit on Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist.

In his original Zoom hearing, Kadri argued that he was trying to deliver a body check. The NHL Department of Player Safety, however, determined that the head was the main point of contract for Kadri's hit. Faulk did not play in the remainder of the series for the Blues, and his teammates were outraged by the play.

"The guy can't control himself," Blues center Brayden Schenn said at the time. "In the playoffs, he's a repeat offender. Bad hits. Greasy hits. He had a guy in a vulnerable position, and he picked nothing but the head."

Kadri's previous two playoff suspensions came when he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Toronto traded Kadri after the second infraction -- he got suspended the balance of the first round in 2019, which turned out to be five games, for cross-checking.

Kadri had 32 points in 56 games this season for Colorado, which won the Presidents' Trophy.