TORONTO - Daniel Paille of the Boston Bruins was suspended for four games Friday for an illegal check to the head of Raymond Sawada of the Dallas Stars. He is the fifth player suspended this season under a new rule aimed at cracking down on dangerous hits.
Paille was ejected in the second period of Boston's 6-3 win Thursday when he was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct. Sawada had lost control of the puck, and as the forward leaned down to gain control, Paille connected with a blindside hit to Sawada's shoulder and head.
"It was a bad hit," Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference said after the game. "We can't be hypocrites when your own team does a hit like that, which the league is trying to get rid of."
Paille is the first player to be banned for four games this season under the new Rule 48. Toronto's Mike Brown and Phoenix's Shane Doan were docked three games and the Islanders' Matt Martin and San Jose's Joe Thornton missed two.
The Stars said Friday that Sawada was being sent home from their road trip with a shoulder injury. He also suffered a broken nose.
Sawada, 25, had just been called up from the Stars' AHL affiliate. He has one goal in 11 career NHL games.
Paille will lose US$23,118 in salary and miss the Bruins' games with San Jose and Montreal and a home-and-away set against Detroit. The forward will be eligible to return Feb. 15 against Toronto.
"You never want to see a hit (like that) on either side," Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said Thursday. "I was just happy when the guy got up and he was OK."
The NHL's discipline review was conducted by senior vice-president of hockey operations Mike Murphy because league disciplinarian Colin Campbell's son Gregory plays for the Bruins.
"Paille delivered a lateral hit where the principal point of contact was his opponent's head," Murphy said in announcing the suspension. "Additionally, the injury suffered by the Dallas player was a factor in this decision."
Paille, a former first-round draft pick, has six points and 26 penalty minutes in 25 games this season.
With files from The Associated Press.