OTTAWA — The Ottawa Senators knew Alex Burrows was facing a suspension, but 10 games caught them by surprise.
The NHL department of Player Safety handed Burrows a 10-game suspension Wednesday night for kneeing New Jersey's Taylor Hall during a game Tuesday.
"We disagree, but we respect the league's process and decision," said Senators coach Guy Boucher.
Hall caught Burrows with a hard check and Burrows replied by chasing down the Devils forward before punching and kneeing him in the helmet. He will forfeit $134,408.60 of his salary during his suspension.
"For the sole purpose of retribution, Burrows drags an unwilling opponent to the ice. Punches him several times, then uses his knee pad to violently inflict more punishment on his opponent's head. This is a dangerous and unjustifiable attack," said a statement from Player Safety.
Senators teammate Mark Stone called the suspension "a bit harsh."
"Obviously it's a suspendable play, but 10 games seems a bit harsh especially considering he doesn't really have as much of a history as people may think," Stone said
Burrows has been suspended once and fined five times over 893 career games.
Hall, speaking to reporters in New Jersey Thursday, wasn't surprised by the length of Burrows' suspension.
"I think in instances like that where it's not really a hockey play, you like to see the league standing up for you there," said Hall. "The reason it's so high is they just want to exterminate it. They don't want to see it again."
Burrows did not speak to media after Ottawa's morning skate on Thursday. He has 48 hours to appeal the ruling.
"We're going to miss (Burrows), he's a great leader in this locker-room, good veteran guy and a guy that everyone really likes," said Matt Duchene. "He's a guy that we rely on for his character and his grit so we're going to miss him while he's out."
Burrows' suspension leaves an already under-manned Senators lineup thinner. They will be without six of their regulars against Nashville Thursday night.
Stone, who had hoped to return Thursday, will miss his ninth straight game due to a knee injury. He hopes to return Saturday.
Derick Brassard will miss his second straight game as will Nate Thompson. Bobby Ryan (hand) and Gabriel Dumont (lower body) are out indefinitely.
Mike Blunden was recalled from AHL Belleville and the Senators will go with 11 forwards and seven defencemen.
Thursday's game marks the return of Kyle Turris, who was traded to Nashville in November.
Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson said "it will be weird" to play against Turris.
"He was someone who I thought was going to be here for a much longer time, someone that I was hoping I was going to get the chance to play with longer than I did even though we had a lot of years together, but again that's part of the business," Karlsson said.
"It's going to feel a little bit different to have him on the other side wearing a yellow jersey, it's going to be strange, but it's going to be exciting at the same time."
Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press