Prior to his hearing with the NHL's vice president of player safety, Brendan Shanahan, Nashville Predators right wing Jordin Tootoo contended he had no intent on running over Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller.
"The last thing I wanted to do was run the guy over," Tootoo said Monday prior to his hearing with the league. "There were no intentions of me doing something stupid like that. I did my best to jump out of his way. When you are going that fast and you get a little nudge from your back right on your hips, it changes a lot of the momentum. If I wanted to bury him, my feet would be planted and I would be in a hockey stance."
The league would have none of it and Tuesday afternoon Tootoo was suspended two games without pay, costing him $13,513 in salary that will get donated to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
Late in the second period of the game, Tootoo drove toward the Buffalo goal on the left side. As he neared the net, he lost control of the puck and was bumped by Sabres defenseman Christian Ehrhoff. Tootoo leapt and collided with Miller, sparking a melee between the teams.
Tootoo was assessed a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct as a result of the play. In Shanahan's view, the league did not think Ehrhoff's contact with Tootoo caused the collision.
Saturday night was Miller's first game back after being run over by Boston's Milan Lucic on Nov. 12. While Miller missed eight games, the only punishment for Lucic was a minor penalty for charging that did not result in a suspension, much to the disappointment of the Sabres.
Predators coach Barry Trotz felt that Tootoo did what he could on the play, and that Lucic's hit on Miller could have come into play in Tootoo's hearing.
"My biggest disappointment in the whole thing is I really thought that a guy like Jordin Tootoo was trying to do the right thing and not run into Miller," Trotz said following Tuesday night's game against Phoenix. "What he was trying to do was make a hockey play and not run into Miller. He did everything I thought humanly possible.
"I think Ehrhoff was wrapped around him with his stick and it got caught up in Miller. So, he went behind the goal line and pulled him into Miller enough. I think timing and the league is sensitive on the hit to Miller the first time, it doesn't really matter. It's two games we're going to play without him, and when he gets back he'll be a big part of our team."
Tootoo, who has three goals and three assists in his last seven games, missed Tuesday's game against the Coyotes and will miss Thursday night's match in Columbus. He is eligible to return to Saturday night at home against Anaheim.
Central Division notes:
With nine goals and nine assists in the month of November, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was named the NHL's Second Star for the month last Thursday. Two of his goals were game-winners, posted in back-to-back wins in Anaheim and Los Angeles Nov. 25 and 26. ... The Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings both appear pleased with the league's proposed realignment as announced Monday. Columbus and Detroit were the only two Western Conference teams located in the Eastern Time Zone, so road games were difficult on their fans, especially those games located three time zones away. With the new arrangement and balanced schedule, Columbus and Detroit feel positive about the outcome. "Today was a very good day for the Columbus Blue Jackets and our fans, who will now be assured of seeing every NHL team and all of the game's best players every season at Nationwide Arena," Columbus president Mike Priest said. "I continue to be impressed and encouraged by the Board, who was committed to making a decision that is in the best interest of the entire league. We are very excited about this and hope that our fans are as well."... Wings senior vice president Jim Devellano echoed Priest's sentiments. "It's a dream come true for the Detroit Red Wings and its fans," Devellano told the team's website. "Our fans now will get to see every team in the NHL at least once every year. Our fans will have far fewer games starting at 10:40 at night, far fewer. And that will especially hold true in the playoffs because in the first two rounds we will be playing teams relatively close to Detroit with Dallas or maybe Winnipeg being the furthest ones."... Through Tuesday night's game against Phoenix, Nashville's top defensive pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter had a combined plus/minus rating of plus-25. The other five defensemen currently on the Predators' roster are a combined minus-34. ... After missing over a year of action and almost 100 of his team's games, St. Louis LW David Perron returned to the Blues' lineup Saturday night after being sidelined with post-concussion syndrome. Perron was injured November 4, 2010 after being hit by San Jose's Joe Thornton. It did not take long for Perron to appear on the score sheet. He scored a goal on his first shot in the opening period.