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Gary Bettman upholds Nazem Kadri’s 8-game suspension

Colorado's Nazem Kadri may be in for a suspension after having to leave Game 2 vs. the Blues for a frightening illegal check to the head that left St. Louis' Justin Faulk down on the ice.

The NHL announced on Monday afternoon that commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld the eight-game suspension for Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri.

Kadri was suspended for a hit to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk in Game 2 of their First Round series.

Because of Kadri’s history of suspensions, especially come playoff time, an eight-game ban was handed down that Kadri and the NHLPA felt was excessive, resulting in the appeal.

Now that Bettman has upheld the suspension, Nazem Kadri can choose to appeal to an independent arbitrator who would have the final say on the matter, if he chooses to do so. If not, or if another appeal is upheld, Kadri will not be eligible to return to the lineup until Game 7 of the Avalanche’s Second Round series against the Golden Knights.


In his summary response to the decision, Bettman highlighted Kadri’s suspension history as well as why he agreed with the length of the ban. The NHLPA and Kadri acknowledged it was a bad hit and a violation of Rule 48, but were simply arguing against the length of the suspension. They felt a four-game suspension was appropriate.

Said Bettman in his summary: “Simply stated, Rule 48 is — and has been for many years — an important and integral part of the Playing Rules governing the game. As such, the overwhelming majority of Players complete their career without ever once violating the rule. By contrast, those Players — like Mr. Kadri — who have violated Rule 48 multiple times during their careers (and have been suspended multiple times for penalties involving opposing Players’ heads) stand out.”

He later continued: “It is clear that Mr. Kadri continues to disregard the safety and well-being of opponents and has not adequately received the message. I agree with the [Department of Player Safety] determination that a lengthy suspension under these circumstances is necessary and appropriate, and supported by clear and convincing evidence.”

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2021 Second Round schedule, TV info]

Bettman acknowledges that he and NHL Department of Player Safety head George Parros did not apply a strict formula for how the eight-game total was reached. He also adds that “a strict formula is neither necessary nor appropriate, particularly since Mr. Kadri has been assessed six supplementary discipline suspensions for head-related offenses (including this supplementary discipline suspension), three of which were assessed during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”

He also addressed why he agreed with the eight-game number, pointing out that it was consistent with the principle of escalating discipline, noting that Kadri’s most recent postseason suspensions were for three and five games respectively.

Bettman found that eight games was an appropriate escalation, especially since this incident (unlike the previous two incidents) resulted in an injury to the opposing player.

Finally, he brought compared this decision to the 2013 decision to suspend former NHL player Patrick Kaleta for 10 games.

Writes Bettman:

While I am not bound by any formula, a comparison with discipline levied in similar circumstances confirms my decision. In 2013, I suspended Patrick Kaleta for ten (10) games for a Rule 48 violation. That was Mr. Kaleta’s fourth head-related suspension (he had also been fined twice) and it was twice as long as his most recent prior suspension. The incident that led to the ten (10) game suspension of Mr. Kaleta had not resulted in an injury. By contrast, the incident here involves the sixth suspension of Mr. Kadri and it did involve an injury. Even taking into account that the eight (8) game suspension here may consist entirely of playoff games, it is proportionate when compared to the Kaleta suspension, particularly in light of the intervening eight (8) years of experience that Mr. Kadri has had playing under Rule 48.”

Kadri will appeal to independent arbitrator Shyam Das, whose decision will be binding. Das, you might remember, cut Tom Wilson’s 20-game suspension in 2018 to 14 games, and also reduced Austin Watson’s 27-game suspension to 18 games.

Related: Reaves ejected for intent injure in Game 1 of Avalanche-Golden Knights

AVALANCHE VS. GOLDEN KNIGHTS (COL leads 1-0) - series livestream link

Game 1: Avalanche 7, Golden Knights 1
Game 2: Wed. June 2: Golden Knights at Avalanche, 10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 3: Fri. June 4: Avalanche at Golden Knights, 10 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Game 4: Sun. June 6: Avalanche at Golden Knights, 8:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
*Game 5: Tues. June 8: Golden Knights at Avalanche TBD
*Game 6: Thurs. June 10: Avalanche at Golden Knights TBD
*Game 7: Sat. June 12: Golden Knights at Avalanche TBD

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.