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NHL suspends Coyotes’ Bissonnette 10 games for leaving bench to start fight

Calgary Flames' Niklas Hagman (L) hauls down Phoenix Coyotes' Paul Bissonnette during the first period of their NHL game in Calgary, Alberta, March 15, 2011.

TODD KOROL/REUTERS

Paul Bissonnette of the Phoenix Coyotes was automatically suspended 10 regular-season games by the NHL for leaving the bench to start a fight.

Bissonnette left the bench after teammate Rostislav Klesla was injured on a hit by Los Angeles Kings forward Jordan Nolan. Klesla had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher and suffered a concussion.

Bissonnette was suspended because he violated Rule 70.10, which states: "The first player to leave the players' or penalty bench illegally during an altercation or for the purpose of starting an altercation from either or both teams shall be suspended without pay for the next 10 regular league and/or playoff games of his team." He was also given a game misconduct Sunday night.

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The suspension will cost Bissonnette US$37,820.51, and he will be eligible to make his season debut Oct. 24 when the Coyotes play at the Kings.

Nolan was not suspended for the hit, which NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan called an "open-ice body check."

"The hit was punishing and resulted in Klesla suffering an injury," Shanahan said in a video confirming no supplemental discipline. "However in delivering it, Nolan broke no National Hockey League rules."

Shanahan explained that Nolan did not leave his feet and did not launch himself at Klesla or target the defenceman's head.

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