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NHL upholds Sabres forward Kaleta's 10-game suspension for hit on Johnson

Buffalo Sabres' Patrick Kaleta (36) throws a punch at Toronto Maple Leafs' Troy Bodie (40) during the third period of an NHL hockey preseason game in Buffalo, N.Y., Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Gary Wiepert

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Buffalo Sabres' Patrick Kaleta (36) throws a punch at Toronto Maple Leafs' Troy Bodie (40) during the third period of an NHL hockey preseason game in Buffalo, N.Y., Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Gary Wiepert

NEW YORK, N.Y. - The National Hockey League has upheld Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta's 10-game suspension for an illegal check to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Jack Johnson.

Kaleta had appealed the original ruling on the grounds that contact with Johnson's head was unavoidable.

Commissioner Gary Bettman dismissed Kaleta's appeal, siding with director of player safety Brendan Shanahan, who handed down the original penalty on Oct. 15. Shanahan said in his decision that Kaleta could have avoided contact with Johnson's head.

The punishment will cost Kaleta US$152,439 in lost salary. Kaleta has already served four games of the ban and is eligible to return Nov. 2 against Anaheim.

Even though the suspension was upheld, Kaleta still has the option of taking his case to neutral discipline arbitrator James Oldham.

This isn't the first time Kaleta has been in trouble with the NHL. He was suspended for five games last season after he shoved New York Rangers centre Brad Richards from behind and into the boards. That ban cost Kaleta $72,000 in salary.

Kaleta was suspended two other times earlier in his career.

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