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by Staff Writer / Buffalo Sabres
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is urging the NHL to "wake up" and severely punish Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson for his blind-side hit that knocked out Buffalo forward Jason Pominville.

Miller says a long-term suspension to Hjalmarsson would be a significant step if the league wants to show it's serious in outlawing such hits.

Miller spoke Tuesday, a day after Pominville sustained a concussion and was taken off the ice on a stretcher. Pominville was crunched face-first into the boards in the first period of Buffalo's 4-3 loss. He is out indefinitely.

"It absolutely needs to be punished," Miller said.  "I don’t care if it’s unintentional. That’s what we have to get away from in hockey right now. Its’ the culture of ‘I was trying to make a play, therefore it’s not my fault.

"A hockey hit is to separate a man from a puck, not anticipating the puck getting there, hitting from behind and driving him into the boards. You have two things right there; the puck wasn’t completely there, it was anticipation of it, there was no separation, it was a hit from behind.

"It’s completely something where I don’t even know if there was enough made of it because Jason was walking out with just stitches. What if Jason has a fractured neck? We don’t know if it’s going to have an impact with concussions.

"I just think no matter how badly Hjalmarsson feels, no matter if it’s unintentional, we have to change the culture of it if we’re ever going to change the situations we’re seeing – with guys laying on the ice bleeding and missing time with concussions.

"It’s a completely unnecessary play. I don’t think enough is being made of it now. Maybe I’m just not aware of the situation as much as I should be, but I just think more people should be a little more outraged. When [Hjalmarsson] left the ice, he was surprised he got kicked out. It was like, ‘are you serious?’ I would have probably started skating towards the locker room, just skated off like ‘I screwed up.’

"I’m glad he admitted to it and he didn’t mean to do it, but you’ve got to change the culture some time and I hope that the League wakes up and sets a precedent for the year."

Hjalmarsson drew a 5-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. The NHL is expected to review the play to determine if there will be a suspension.

"It doesn’t matter if the guy is trying to make a smart hockey play," Miller said. "He made a dumb hockey play and he should be suspended."

For Miller's full interview, click here.

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