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Top 15 Longest Suspensions in NHL History

For some players in the National Hockey League, the sin bin has proven to be insufficient.

There is no denying it, hockey, especially at the elite level of the NHL, is a dangerous game with a multitude of ways one can be seriously injured. And when during play a skater does something nefarious that increases the danger of the game or all-out threatens the physical well-being on an opponent, the league must step in and dole out suspensions.

Some like Dale Hunter's hit on Pierre Turgeon in the 1993 playoffs, a hit out of frustration and anger at himself for goofing on the play, may not appear as vindictive as others, yet he still had to pay the price and sit. It is a slippery slope if the league allows a hit resulting in injury after the play to go unpunished.

And the length of these suspensions are only getting longer. In the early 1990s, the longest was a mere 21 games. now, after several 25-game punishments, repeat offenders must be worried that their next slip up might cost them their careers.

Not all transgressions have occurred on the ice, with one of the longest suspensions still continuing with no end in the foreseeable future. Though this instance is a very particular situation, but one the brass of the NHL hope never to see repeated.

Some of the older disciplinary measures, like that used to punish Dan Maloney, might seem rather odd by today's standards. It is important to note that suspensions have been handed out almost since the inception of the game.

Others, like Marty McSorley's one-year suspension would go on to tarnish his entire career; a career that saw him playing with Wayne Gretzky for much of it. In fact his last game in the NHL was the game of his worst transgression. There was no wave goodbye to fans on his retirement. Just scorn from them for having scarred the game they love.

Shockingly, Todd Bertuzzi's sucker punch on Steve Moore only resulted in 20 total NHL games missed, though he was banned from playing anywhere by the IIHF throughout the NHL's 2004-05 lockout.

It is a great game, though, and the NHL police just hope to keep it that way and prevent it from becoming mired in controversy.

15 15.  Maurice Richard - 15 games

While there are several suspensions of 15 games, this one is by far the most famous (or infamous) one.

The Canadiens icon Maurice Richard was in a fight with Hal Laycoe of the Bruins, in retaliation for Laycoe hitting Richard with a stick to the head. While linesman Cliff Thompson tried to restrain Richard, The Rocket turned and knocked him out cold. Richard was suspended the rest of the regular season, and as a result lost out on the scoring title. He also missed all 12 playoff games, with the Habs dropping the final in seven games to Detroit. This incident was also the catalyst for the infamous Richard Riot.

14 14. Eddie Shore - 16 games

via flickr.com

As tragic as any incident on this list, Eddie Shore's sucker punch of Toronto Maple Leafs star Ace Bailey resulted in Bailey's career ending, due to a fractured skull. On the evening of December 13th, 1933, Shore knocked Bailey down from behind, with Bailey's head hitting the ice. Apparently the hit was in retaliation of Bailey taking down Bruins player Red Horner. Either way the act was reckless and it's kind of shocking Shore would only get 16 games for ending a player's career.

13 13. Matt Cooke - 16 games (with playoffs)

Hits like this made Matt Cooke the league's most hated player at one point. The rulebook had to redefine a headshot due to the liberties Cooke would take with opposing players' heads. In this case, he elbowed Rangers defenceman Ryan McDonagh. It was as deliberate as an elbow could be, with Cooke sticking his elbow sideways to catch McDonagh's head. Cooke wasn't going for the puck so much as he was head hunting Cooke. Cooke was suspended for the remainder of the regular season and most of the Penguins' opening round series against Tampa.

12 12. Todd Bertuzzi, Tom Lydsiak, Brad May, Steve Downie, - 20 games

We'll place Todd Bertuzzi's sucker punch on Steve Moore above the rest of the 20-game lot because it should have been longer.  Bertuzzi's total NHL games missed due to the incident was 20 games, due to the lockout after the 2004 season. Bertuzzi was also banned from playing in any IIHF league, as they honor NHL suspensions. Bertuzzi was reinstated by the league following the conclusion of the lockout.

- Tom Lysiak was suspended for 20 games back in 1983 for intentionally tripping NHL linesman Ron Foyt.

 

- Brad May slashed Steve Heinze in the nose

- Steve Downie threw himself at Dean McAmmond behind the net

11 11. Dale Hunter - 21 games

Though known for racking up penalty minutes, this hit has left an asterisk beside an otherwise decent career.

During Game 6 of the first round of the 1993 playoffs between the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders, Hunter would exhibit one of the worst displays of unsportsmanlike behavior in NHL history.

Islander Pierre Turgeon would strip Hunter of the puck in the Capitals' end and scored after going in all alone to put New York up 5-3 in the third. Hunter, who was the Caps' leading scorer with seven goals in that series, became incensed and took his frustration out on a celebrating Turgeon, hitting him without warning into the boards.

Turgeon sustained a concussion and a separated shoulder on the play and would not return to action until Game 7 of the next series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

10 10. Raffi Torres - 21 games (reduced from 25) 

If this hit happened during the high-wheeling days of the '80s, it would have been celebrated.

However, in the marginally safer present-day NHL, this hit was deemed highly illegal and highly dangerous, garnering Phoenix Coyotes winger Raffi Torres a 25-game suspension later to be dropped to 21.

On April 17, 2012, during the third game of the first round of the playoffs between the Coyotes and the Chicago Blackhawks, Torres laid a hard hit on veteran Marian Hossa after the latter passed the puck off near centre ice.

Hossa was knocked unconscious and laid on the ice for several minutes before being put on a gurney and taken to a nearby hospital.

No penalty was called on the play, but it would later be reviewed, clearly showing that Torres had left the ice to make the hit with Hossa's head being the main point of contact. It was a dangerous hit and to prevent more vicious plays NHL head cop Brendan Shanahan laid out a 25-game suspension. Seventy-six days after the hit, his suspension was dropped to 21 games.

9 9. Gordie Dwyer - 23 games

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Gordie Dwyer would in fact earn himself three suspensions that together totaled 23 games.

In an exhibition match between the Lightning and the Washington Capitals on September 19, 2000, Dwyer fought Capital players Joe Murphy and Joe Reekie. Once in the penalty box, Dwyer would illegally return to the ice for the purpose of trying to fight Reekie again.

Though no injuries were sustained, Dwyer was awarded three game misconducts, each worth a 10-game suspension. Two of those misconducts were for abusing the referees. In trying to reach Reekie, Dwyer twice forced his way through the officials.

8 8. Jesse Boulerice - 25 games

In a game where the Philadelphia Flyers were leading 8-2 over the Vancouver Canucks on October 10, 2007, Jesse Boulerice gave reason to continue the tradition of calling the team from the city of brotherly love the Broad Street Bullies.

With the game winding down, Boulerice caught Ryan Kesler behind the play as he rounded out from behind the net with a cross-check to the face sending the blue chipper to the ice.

The two had been squabbling all game and it appeared as if Boulerice was attempting to instigate a fight, however what he would get instead would be a 25-game suspension.

7 7. Chris Simon - 25 games

New York Islander Chris Simon's seventh suspension was as vicious as they come. And he'd sure pay the price for it.

With under seven minutes left in the third period of a game between the Islanders and the New York Rangers on March 11, 2007, Simon's infamous temper would rear its ugly head.

With the play deep in the Islanders' zone, Ranger Ryan Hollweg gave Simon a good, hard hit in the corner. Taking exception to it, moments later as Hollweg was rounding his way out of the zone, Simon would slash him in the face with both hands on his stick.

The slash was done with so much force that the announcer would remark that it looked like he was felling a tree.

6 6. Chris Simon - 30 games

Repeat offender Chris Simon of the New York Islanders was suspended for an unprecedented 30 games following a malicious attempt to injure Jarkko Ruutu of the Pittsburgh Penguins on December 15, 2007.

In what at first appeared to be a rather benign scuffle between Tim Jackman and Ruutu near the teams' benches during a stoppage of play, Simon pulled Ruutu's right skate from under him with his own causing the Penguin player to follow to his knees. Simon then proceeded to stomp on Ruutu's right ankle before heading off the ice on a line change.

At the time of the incident Simon was given a match penalty for attempting to injure and ejected from the game.

5 5. Slava Voynov - 80+ games and counting

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This suspension is ongoing and looks to continue for sometime.

Voynov was arrested on October 20, 2014 on suspicion of domestic violence and has since been suspended by the NHL with pay for the foreseeable future. He is also prohibited from practicing with  the Los Angeles Kings.

According to court reports, Voynov's wife, Marta Varlamova, received a laceration over the left eye requiring eight stitches, was pushed into a flatscreen TV, sustained markings on her neck indicative of choking and is quoted as saying that she was kicked and pushed several times.

Having already surpassed the 65-game mark, Voynov's suspension is the longest in modern NHL history (based on games missed).

4 4. Alexander Perezhogin - 89 games

3 3. Marty McSorley - One year

Boston Bruins' tough guy Marty McSorley's 17-year career would end in infamy.

In the dying seconds of a game between the Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks on February 21, 2000, McSorley blatantly and viciously slashed Donald Brashear in the head causing the enforcer to fall backwards, hitting the back of his head on the ice. Brashear would sustain a grade III concussion, forcing him to miss 20 games.

McSorley was originally suspended for the remainder of the season as well as the playoffs for the 1999-00 season (totaling 23 games). His suspension would be lengthened to an entire year following a British Columbia court finding McSorley guilty of assault with a weapon on October 6, 2000.

2 2. Dan Maloney - Two years

via bloodyhawks.ru

Probably the most contentious inclusion on this list, Dan Maloney's attack on November 4, 1975 would be the first time in NHL history that an on-ice event would go to trial.

Though there doesn't appear to be many reports from the game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs, apparently Maloney of the Wings attacked Leafs' Brian Glennie using his stick and throwing punches. It should be known that Maloney was known as having one of the hardest punches during his time.

After having subdued Glennie, getting him to the ice, Maloney continued to throttle the fallen defenceman repeatedly bashing his head into the ice.

Because of his on-ice attack, Maloney was charged with assault to cause bodily harm, in a move by the Ontario Attorney-General Roy McMurtry to curb violence in hockey.

1 1. Billy Coutu - Life

via realclearsports.com

After losing the Stanley Cup Final to the Ottawa Senators in four games on April 13, 1927, Billy Coutu of the Boston Bruins pursued referee Jerry Laflamme off the ice and accosted him and then threatened his linesman.

According to reports, the former captain of the Montreal Canadiens was following the instructions of Bruins' head coach Art Ross. However, Coutu was banned from the NHL for his actions and fined $100.

Coutu would go on to play in minor leagues but he would never again play pro. His suspension was eventually lifted five years later at the behest of Canadiens' head coach Leo Dandurand. However, the ban would be lifted a year after he had retired.

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Top 15 Longest Suspensions in NHL History