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Maple Leafs' Bell suspended for 15 regular-season games @NHLdotcom

NEW YORK -- Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mark Bell has been suspended without pay for 15 regular-season games, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced today, for having engaged in and acknowledging conduct deemed to be "dishonorable, prejudicial to or against the welfare of the League or the game of hockey," in violation of National Hockey League By-Law 17.

"Playing in the National Hockey League is a privilege, and with that privilege comes a corresponding responsibility for exemplary conduct off the ice as well as on it," Commissioner Bettman said. "Mark Bell will serve jail time following the 2007-08 season after pleading to felony and misdemeanor charges stemming from an alcohol-related automobile accident that caused an injury. He also left the scene of the accident. Such conduct is a violation of our covenant with our fans, and to the game, and is prejudicial to the welfare of the League.

"However, over the past year, Mark has made extraordinary strides in his rehabilitation. This positive progress was a material factor in reducing what could have been a lengthier suspension,” Commissioner Bettman added. “The NHL supports Mark’s commitment to learning from his past mistakes and his efforts to move his life forward in a positive direction.”

The term of Bell’s By-Law 17 suspension will begin once his reinstatement to active status is recommended by the doctors who administer his care under the joint Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program (the “SABH” program) of the NHL and NHL Players’ Association. Bell will be permitted to participate in all practices and training sessions with his team during the term of his suspension.

Bell recently pleaded no contest in California to charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and hit-and-run.

Bylaw 17 reads as follows: "If in the opinion of the Commissioner . . . any act or the conduct of an official of a Member Club or player or employee . . . has been dishonorable, prejudicial to or against the welfare of the League or the game of hockey, he may expel or suspend such person . . . "

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