Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque will have more time than he anticipated to think about his hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.
Bourque was handed down a two-game suspension by Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's disciplinarian, for his hit from behind on Seabrook at 15:25 of the first period of Calgary's 4-2 loss in Chicago on Sunday.
He received a major penalty and a game misconduct on the play.
"I thought I'd get a fine or a game, but two a little harsh, maybe," Bourque said a day after the ruling.
The Flames forward is more relieved that Seabrook, a former teammate, escaped without serious injury.
"The important thing for me is that Seebs is all right and he knows I didn't mean to hurt him," said Bourque, who will forfeit $36,036.04 to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. "I played with the guy for four years, so I felt pretty bad. I went and talked to him during the third period to make sure he was alright and say sorry and he accepted my apology."
Both Bourque and Flames general manager Jay Feaster had hoped the league would show leniency given the circumstances surrounding the hit.
"Honestly, I thought the ref was a big part of it, especially right before I hit him," Bourque said. "He does get tangled up and he does turn towards the boards. I thought that would have a bigger role in the decision and unfortunately it didn't."
"While we respectfully disagree with the League's interpretation of the hit, we nonetheless recognize that Brendan Shanahan has issued his ruling and both the Flames and Rene Bourque will abide by his decision," Feaster said in a statement.
The suspension, coupled with an injury to center Matt Stajan, has forced coach Brent Sutter to juggle his lines.
"It is what it is," Sutter said. "We live by the League's ruling. We can't do anything about it and we'll accept it."
Ultimately, Bourque will have to stomach Shanahan’s suspension.
"It's tough for them to make decisions," he said. "Shanny made it clear he wasn't happy with it and he thought it was a dangerous hit. I tried not to argue with him, just explain my process and my thoughts about it, and obviously we didn't come to an agreement there."
Calgary will be without Bourque for Tuesday's contest against the Minnesota Wild and Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings. He is eligible to return Friday when Calgary travels to Vancouver to take on the Canucks in the first of a seven-game road trip for the Flames.