The NHL handed Chicago Blackhawks star Duncan Keith a six-game suspension Friday for slashing Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle in the face Tuesday, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Keith's suspension will force him to miss Game 1 of the Blackhawks' first-round playoff series.
Per Lazerus, the NHL released a video explaining the decision to sit Keith down for his actions against Coyle.
"While on his back, Keith looks at Coyle, winds his arm back, then slashes his stick dangerously and violently directly into the face of Coyle...an intentional and retaliatory act of violence by a player with a history of using his stick as a weapon," the NHL said.
Keith said he will not appeal the suspension and has apologized to Coyle, according to Lazerus. "There’s a limit there and I gotta know that," Keith said, per Lazerus. "I will. Everybody wants to have a reputation as a clean, honest player. There’s a line [and] a limit. It’s just being smarter and knowing that," Keith said.
The incident took place midway through the first period of Minnesota's 4-1 win over Chicago, as Keith swung his stick at Coyle's face after being knocked to the ice:
The officials gave Keith a match penalty for the incident.
The punishment, however, is drawing some criticism, as Dimitri Filipovic of SportsNet.ca thought the NHL let Keith off lightly:
Chicago's star defenseman has had violent outbursts on the ice, serving a five-game suspension in 2012 for elbowing Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin and a one-game suspension during the 2013 Western Conference Final for a high-stick retaliation against the Los Angeles Kings' Jeff Carter.
The Blackhawks have already locked up a playoff spot but are trailing the Dallas Stars by eight points for first place in the Central Division with five games left. Keith's absence won't make much of a dent in their pursuit of a division title, so the team will have to survive only one notable game without him.