BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The Sabres returned to practice on Friday morning with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen on the ice a day after the NHL announced he would be suspended for three games.
Tuesday evening when the Sabres hosted Pittsburgh, Ristolainen received a five-minute penalty for interference and a game misconduct for a hit on Jake Guentzel. The NHL’s player safety department then met with Ristolainen on Thursday for a hearing and concluded that he would serve a three-game suspension.
It’s safe to say the Sabres locker room was surprised at the severity of the punishment handed down to their top defenseman.
“I don’t know what I could really do different there because it was a half second and I was skating backwards,” Ristolainen said on Friday. “It is really hard to stop there and I don’t think I can and the hit happened and he got injured”
“If that puck kept coming and didn’t get separated it is a clean hit.” fellow defenseman Josh Gorges said. “And then, we don’t talk about it. So, I think the intentions of the hit weren’t intended to be dirty or hurt anybody.”
“He is not a dirty player but he plays the game on the line,” winger Kyle Okposo said. “He plays with an edge and you know, it is an unfortunate hit and he knows it to.”
“There were other things during that game that should have been under review but that didn’t happen,” said goaltender Robin Lehner. “Certain teams in this league get the benefit of the doubt and if the jerseys are reversed I don’t think we are taking about three games.”