TORONTO (AP) -Anaheim Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski has been suspended for eight games without pay on Thursday for delivering a hit to the head area of Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook.
The incident occurred at 2:22 of the second period during Wednesday night's 4-2 win by Anaheim. Wisniewski was assessed a minor penalty for charging. Seabrook suffered an injury on the play.
Wisniewski, who was suspended two games on Oct. 31, 2009, is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. He will forfeit $268,292 in salary.
"Mr. Wisniewski delivered a retaliatory hit to the head of an opponent who never had possession of the puck," said Colin Campbell, NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations. "The fact that Mr. Wisniewski is a repeat offender also entered into this decision."
Wisniewski will be eligible to return April 3 at Los Angeles.
"I am truly sorry that my friend Brent Seabrook was hurt on the play. I certainly wish him the best," he said in a statement. "I am, however, very disappointed in the length of the suspension. Eight games is incredibly hard to swallow, especially in comparison to other recent hits that have resulted in lesser punishment."
Commissioner Gary Bettman explained the reason for the suspension on his radio show.
Speaking on the "NHL Hour With Gary Bettman," the commissioner said Wisniewski's hit on Seabrook during Wednesday night's game was "completely different" from the one delivered by Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke earlier this month that left Boston forward Marc Savard with a Grade 2 concussion.
"In that case, unlike some of these others, there was no puck possession, the hitting involved rising up to make contact with the head, and so the circumstances gave rise to being able to punish what we have previously defined - long before this season - as illegal acts on the ice," Bettman said.
"And that's why the eight-game suspension."