The NHL on Saturday reduced Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette’s suspension from 10 games to three games for leaving the bench to participate in an altercation during a preseason game against the Kings.
Bissonnette had a hearing scheduled with league officials in New York on Sunday, but following the announcement, he dropped his appeal, meaning he will miss the Coyotes’ first three games of the regular season.
The suspension was originally handed down after Bissonnette was assessed a game misconduct for leaving the bench during an altercation or for the purpose of starting an altercation, which calls for an automatic 10-game suspension. The incident occurred shortly after Kings forward Jordan Nolan, who had previously injured Coyotes defenseman Rusty Klesla with a high hit, exited the penalty box.
Bissonnette and the Coyotes disputed that he left the bench specifically to enter an altercation, instead claiming that he had been making a normal line change to replace forward Max Domi on the ice.
In the NHL’s statement, the following explanation was provided for the shortening of the suspension:
“During the appeal process, video evidence not available to the league at the time of the assessment of the suspension was reviewed. Although not conclusive, this new evidence lends support to Bissonnette’s contention that, at the time he entered the ice surface, he did so legally, to substitute for Phoenix forward Max Domi. That contention is also supported by various of Bissonnette’s teammates and by Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett.
“None of the on-ice officials definitively contradict Bissonnette’s contention. Rather, because Domi never exited the ice surface and, in fact, later joined the altercation himself, the officials merely (and properly) determined that a violation of Rules 70.1 and 70.6 had occurred.
“Given the totality of these circumstances, including the lack of conclusive video evidence, and Bissonnette’s credible assertions regarding the intended legality of his substitution for Domi at the time, the league has decided not to apply the 10-game automatic suspension to Bissonnette under Rule 70.10.”
Bissonnette will be eligible to return to the Coyotes for an Oct. 10 game in Detroit against the Red Wings.