Lightning GM Steve Yzerman repeated several times that the elbow with which D Pavel Kubina hit Blackhawks C David Bolland on Wednesday was "unintentional."
Kubina felt "really bad about it," Yzerman said. "He's not a dirty player." Kubina said in a statement released by the team he had "no intent to injure" Bolland with the hit that occurred 2:09 into Tampa Bay's 4-3 shootout win at the St. Pete Times Forum. Even so, on Thursday the league suspended Kubina for three games, costing him $60,096.76 in salary. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
"I didn't realize he was injured on the play until being notified by the NHL that a hearing would take place to review the hit," said Kubina, who will miss tonight's game against the Senators, Saturday against the Panthers and Monday against the Maple Leafs.
"I have played nearly 900 games in the NHL, and my history and my record demonstrate that I am not the type of player that ever attempts to injure other players. I am sorry David was hurt on the play."
Kubina, 33, who can return Thursday against the Canadiens, was suspended once before. He missed the first game of the 2006-07 season while with the Maple Leafs because of a cross-check to the head of Detroit's Jiri Hudler.
Thursday's incident occurred near center ice. Just after Bolland sent the puck into the Lightning zone, Kubina elbowed him on the side of the head. No penalty was called. Bolland left the game after the period and is believed to have a concussion, reports out of Chicago said.
Yzerman said he was notified during the game a phone hearing would be Thursday with league disciplinarian Colin Campbell. He also said he expected a suspension.
"We respect the decision," Yzerman said. "With blows to the head being a focus and getting a lot of attention from the league, you have to be aware of hits to the head more so than ever. There's more emphasis now than ever on players to check clean, to avoid the head."
About Kubina, he said, "He's a big, strong, powerfully built guy. He's not a mean guy. It was not in retaliation. It wasn't a vicious hit. He just got his elbow up and got him in the side of the head."
STABLE LINEUP: Yzerman said he will not call up a defenseman from AHL Norfolk to fill Kubina's spot. Still, with Randy Jones out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain, Marc-Andre Bergeron (back spasms) not 100 percent and Mike Lundin not in game shape after missing 13 games with an abdominal injury, the blue line is stressed.
RETURNING: Norfolk G Cedrick Desjardins is cleared to play, Yzerman said. Desjardins, who impressed in Lightning wins Dec. 30 and Jan. 1, has been out since Jan. 16 with a right shoulder injury. The goalie (14-6-1, 2.56 GAA, .906 save percentage for the Admirals) rehabilitated to avoid surgery.
PRAISE: Coach Guy Boucher called Chicago "the hardest team we had to defend against. … They're so evasive. You have them, they're not there anymore. … It's that mobility and vision at the same time and flare at the same time. I don't think anybody has got that, really."