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Niklas Hjalmarsson suspended for two games for hit from behind

Oct 12, 2010, 7:39 PM EST

Niklas Hjalmarsson

The NHL has weighed in on Niklas Hjalmarsson’s hit from behind on Buffalo Sabres forward Jason Pominville and will suspend the Hawks defenseman for two games. Hjalmarsson did say he had no intent to hurt Pominville, but the hit was bad enough to give Pominville a concussion and he’ll be out of action in the mean time.

Sabres goalie Ryan Miller made his thoughts known abundantly well on how he thought the league should weigh in on things saying, “I’m glad he admitted to it and didn’t need to do it, but you’ve got to change the culture sometime, and I hope the league wakes up and sets a precedent for the year.”  While two games may not be enough for his liking, it’ll have to do for now.

Hjalmarsson’s first game back from suspension just so happens to be Saturday night in Chicago against the Sabres. If Pominville isn’t back in the lineup by then, it’s got the makings of a potentially brutal night. Sabres agitator Patrick Kaleta said that either the league would take care of things or he would handle it himself.

“It’ll get taken care of either with the league,” Sabres right Patrick Kaleta said this afternoon before the decision was handed down, “or I think we play them Saturday, so we’ll make a point that you can’t be taking hits like that against one of our leaders and one of the better players on our team.”

All of a sudden, Buffalo-Chicago on Saturday night has turned into must-see TV.

We polled you, our faithful PHT readers about what you thought Hjalmarsson’s punishment should be for the hit, and your opinions were very strong about things. So much so that we think Sabres goalie Ryan Miller was spamming us with his thoughts. The votes shook out rather interestingly by the time we posted this as you guys opted for an “all or nothing” approach.

Tons of votes for three games or more, but a healthy amount for no punishment at all. Apparently we’ve got a lot of Blackhawks fans reading us. As for our take, the punishment fits. It was a reckless play by Hjalmarsson and one where he got a good head of steam going for him before crunching Pominville into the boards.

No, he didn’t intend to hit him in the head and while many Chicago fans are claiming that Pominville saw Hjalmarsson coming, let’s get realistic here. While checking is all part of the game, what player is going to stand in and take that kind of hit just because? No one. Pominville got run from behind and paid a serious price for it and if you think for a moment that any player will just absorb a hit like that you need to take the team-colored glasses off for a second and think about that.

Hjalmarsson will get his on Saturday night as he’ll be skating with a bull’s-eye on him as far as the Sabres are concerned. We’re not saying we’re all for blood lust here, we’re more for seeing teams settle things out and getting it out of the way to play some hockey.

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