Nazem Kadri was suspended eight games by the NHL Department of Player Safety on Friday.
The Colorado Avalanche center was disciplined for an illegal check to the head of St. Louis Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup First Round at Ball Arena in Denver on Wednesday.
"The eight games, I'm a little surprised, to be honest with you," Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. "I looked through all the head-shot suspensions for the last year. A lot of two-gamers get handed out that were significant hits to the head. We've had some guys put out with hits to the head that you know are still out with no suspension and two games.
"So I thought, generally the rule of thumb, in playoffs, you get a little less, and he got significantly more, so it is what it is, we have to deal with it, and we need other guys to step up and I'm not [going to] worry about it past today. We have to live with the decisions they make and they make them for a reason. We don't always have to agree when it's their decision and you've got to live with it. He put himself in a bad spot on the hit and now he has to sit for a while, we've got other guys [who can] step up in order to win hockey games."
The incident occurred with 13:34 remaining in the third period. Kadri was given a match penalty at 6:30.
Kadri's suspension began with Game 3 at St. Louis on Friday. Colorado leads the best-of-7 series 3-0 after a 5-1 win.
Game 4 is at St. Louis on Sunday.
"Obviously it's tough news to hear, he's a big part of our team," Colorado forward Brandon Saad said. "It's a lot of games, so not much you can really say. I mean it's tough news for our team, we're [going to] have to soldier up, next-man-up mentality, and win some games without him."
If the suspension is not fully served during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the remaining games will be served at the beginning of the 2021-22 regular season.
This is the third time Kadri has been suspended in the postseason. When playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he was suspended three games for boarding Boston Bruins forward Tommy Wingels in Game 1 of the 2018 Eastern Conference First Round. He also was suspended for the remainder of the 2019 first round for cross-checking Boston forward Jake DeBrusk in Game 2.
Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg played 8:59 in place of Kadri in his first game since May 10. The 35-year-old center scored 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 45 regular-season games, including two assists in 11 games with Colorado after being acquired in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on April 12.
Faulk, who did not return in Game 2, did not play Friday.
NHL.com staff writer Mike G. Morreale contributed to this report