Coyotes forward Paul Bissonnette will appeal his10-game suspensionfor leaving the bench on an illegal line change during an altercation in Sunday’s preseason game at Jobing.com Arena against the Los Angeles Kings, his agent, Mark Guy confirmed.
In the first period of Sunday’s game, Kings center Jordan Nolan dropped Coyotes defenseman Rusty Klesla with an open-ice hit. Klesla was taken off the ice on a stretcher with his head and neck immobilized. Nolan was not penalized, fined or suspended for the play. After Nolan and Coyotes center Martin Hanzal exited the penalty box for coincidental roughing minors, Hanzal elbowed Nolan and an altercation ensued.
Bissonnette came off the bench before teammate Max Domi arrived at the bench, to join the altercation, although he was barely a part of it. He was given a game misconduct for leaving the bench, which triggers an automatic 10-game suspension.
The appeal process was changed under the new collective bargaining agreement. Commissioner Gary Bettman will hear the appeal first, but players who have been suspended six or more games have the option to appeal that decision to a neutral arbitrator.
If the suspension stands, Bissonnette will begin serving the suspension when the regular season begins. He would forfeit $37,820.51 in salary. Coincidentally, he would be eligible to return to the lineup Oct. 24 when the Coyotes are in Los Angeles to play the Kings.
Bissonnette can still play in preseason games.
NHL spokesperson John Dellapina said one of the points of the illegal line change rule is to prohibit teams from creating an artificial manpower advantage during an altercation. That’s why it doesn’t matter how aggressive Bissonnette was upon arriving at the scrum — simply by being there he creates an odd-man situation that could free up a teammate to do damage.
In the video NHL has, Domi clearly is in the middle of the scrum when Bissonnette arrives. If one were changing for the other, somebody should have been on the bench, Dellapina explained.