FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NHL SUSPENDS ISLANDERS D BRENDAN WITT FIVE GAMES
Uniondale, NY, February 27, 2009 – The National Hockey League has suspended Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt for five games, without pay, as a result of an elbowing incident during NHL game #910 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the National Hockey League announced today.
“We are disappointed to lose a player of Brendan’s caliber and character for this period of time, but we understand the League’s concerns regarding hits to the head,” said Islanders General Manager Garth Snow.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Witt will forfeit $74,372.75. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
At 2:21 of the third period, Witt delivered a blow to the head area of Toronto forward Niklas Hagman. Hagman was injured on the play and did not return to the game. Officials assessed Witt a major penalty for elbowing and game misconduct on the play.
Witt will miss Saturday’s game against Buffalo, March 2 against Colorado, March 5 against the New York Rangers, March 7 against New Jersey and March 8 against Phoenix. He will be eligible to return March 10 at Toronto.
Blue emphasis (mine) = Don't bet the farm on it. Of course, there's nothing the Islanders could do in this situation but play it straight and carry on as though Witt will definitely be around to miss all those games. Tough spot to be in and I certainly wouldn't read anything into it. It's just interesting to note some of the challenges of communicating with the public.