Calgary forward Tom Kostopoulos will sit for six games for the hit to the head that broke the jaw of Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brad Stuart during Detroit’s 5-4 win on Friday.
Stuart will miss 6-8 weeks of time on an already depleted Red Wings roster. Detroit has been without forwards Pavel Datsyuk, Dan Cleary and Mike Modano, and Valtteri Filppula missed the Calgary and Vancouver contests as well with a groin problem.
NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell did not label Kostopoulos as a repeat offender because more than 18 months had passed since his last violation. Campbell also noted Stuart was not in possession of the puck at the time of the hit and took into consideration the seriousness of Stuart’s injury.
“Kostopoulos delivered a blow to the head of an unsuspecting and vulnerable player,” Campbell said. "As well, he targeted the head of his opponent and, while the hit was not from the blindside, the head was the principal point of contact.
In 2008 Kostopoulos received three games for boarding Toronto’s Mike Van Ryn. Earlier this year he gave Minnesota’s Nick Schultz a concussion with an elbow, which he was not suspended for.
The six games is more than any other suspension levied this year. The previous “record-holder” was Chicago forward Ben Eager, who was axed four games Jan. 8 for sucker-punching Toronto’s Colby Armstrong.Kostopoulos is the second Flames player to earn a suspension this year. Olli Jokinen was suspended three games Nov. 18 for cross checking Phoenix forward Wotjek Wolski in the head.
Stuart has become one of Detroit’s most reliable and consistent defenseman this season. Last year he was one of just three Wings to play all 82 games, a feat he obviously won’t get to match again.