The National Hockey League announced on Saturday that they have reduced Phoenix Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette's suspension from 10-games to 3-games. Bissonnette was suspended for leaving the Coyotes bench and joining a fight during their preseason game against the Los Angeles Kings on September 15, 2013.
"Grateful for the time the NHL took to review my case and saw what my intentions were," Bissonnette said on his Twitter account on September 28th.
On September 15th Coyotes defenseman Rusty Klesla was taken off the ice on a stretcher after being checked by Kings forward Jordan Nolan. Klesla was transported to a local hospital and was released later that night. Nolan was not penalized for the check on Klesla and did not receive further punishment from the NHL.
A fight with Nolan ensued later in the game and Bissonnette received a game misconduct penalty for leaving the bench and joining the fracas. A game misconduct is an automatic ten-game suspension. Bissonnette maintained that he did not leave the bench illegally but was part of the next line change for Phoenix. The NHL reviewed Bissonnette's claim and issued it's decision on September 28th.
Subsequently, Bissonnette was assessed an automatic 10-game suspension pursuant to Rule 70.10. Bissonnette appealed his automatic 10-game suspension pursuant to Section 18.17 of the CBA. During the appeal process, video evidence not available to the League at the time of the assessment of the suspension was reviewed. Although not conclusive, this new evidence lends support to Bissonnette's contention that, at the time he entered the ice surface, he did so legally, to substitute for Phoenix forward Max Domi. That contention is also supported by various of Bissonnette's teammates and by Phoenix Head Coach Dave Tippett. None of the on-ice officials definitively contradict Bissonnette's contention. Rather, because Domi never exited the ice surface and, in fact, later joined the altercation himself, the officials merely (and properly) determined that a violation of Rules 70.1 and 70.6 had occurred.
Given the totality of these circumstances, including the lack of conclusive video evidence, and Bissonnette's credible assertions regarding the intended legality of his substitution for Domi at the time, the League has decided not to apply the 10-game automatic suspension to Bissonnette under Rule 70.10.
Still, the League has concluded that Bissonnette must bear some responsibility for the situation that occurred on the ice in which six (6) Phoenix Coyotes' Players ended up participating in an altercation, principally involving and targeting Los Angeles forward Jordan Nolan. In this regard, the League is assessing Bissonnette a three-game suspension for his role in the events surrounding the on-ice altercation with Nolan under Rule 28 -- Supplementary Discipline.
Due to the suspension Bissonnette will lose $11,346.15 in salary, which goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund, and is eligible to return to the ice on October 10th when the Coyotes head to the Motor City to take on the Detroit Red Wings.