Rasmus Ristolainen was given a three-game suspension, announced by NHL Player Safety, for his hit on on Pittsburgh forward Jake Guentzel in Tuesday's game in KeyBank Center.
NHL Player Safety released its video three hours later. "Guentzel never touches the puck and is not eligible to be checked in any manner," the video says. "And while Ristolainen reasonably assumes that Guentzel will gain possession of the puck, the onus is on the hitter to ensure that player he is hitting is eligible to be checked."
NHL Player Safety ruled Ristolainen had plenty of time to adjust his path once the puck was deflected.
Ristolainen spoke with the media Thursday after a team practice in HarborCenter and before his hearing with NHL Player Safety.
Ristolainen was called for a five-minute interference penalty and given a game misconduct. Guentzel did not return and after the game the Penguins announced he suffered a concussion.
"I tried to hit him. Obviously he didn’t get the puck so that’s unfortunate and too bad he got injured," Ristolainen said Thursday, the first time he has spoken about the hit.
"At the moment, I didn’t expect to get thrown out of the game but later on he obviously didn’t have the puck. He didn’t get it. Our player broke the play and he got injured. So, I don’t know what are the rules but it probably was the right call. I’m not aware of the rules."
Ristolainen didn't necessarily expect a hearing with NHL Player Safety. "I haven't been in this position before," he said. "It's kind of new to me."
But Sabres coach Dan Byslma wasn't taken aback by the scheduled hearing.
"My understanding is that the nature of the call on the ice, it had to be a phone conversation," Bylsma said. "From that standpoint, I wasn't surprised."
Ristolainen described the hit this way:
"No elbow because I turned my back and kind of hip-checked. I don’t know. Maybe he wasn’t ready for it. Like I said, I don’t want to hurt anyone. It’s too bad he got injured.
"I didn’t take any strides. I tried to give a little bit of time," for Guentzel "to be aware and when I was getting my eyes toward him I tried to look the puck, I tried to find the puck. It never got to him. I didn't see that. So it’s like a half a second there. Tough to react."
Ristolainen with a brutal hit on Guentzel.. pic.twitter.com/ixpiDviM1e
— Hockey Central (@HockeyCentraI) March 21, 2017
Ristolainen.. gets a game misconduct. pic.twitter.com/GpOensJA91
— Aivis Kalniņš (@A_Kalnins) March 21, 2017