SAN JOSE -- St. Louis Blues forward Maxim Lapierre received a five-game suspension Friday for his devastating boarding hit on Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle, a lighter punishment than had been expected by many around the NHL.

Lapierre, who was fined $14,000 and also will lose $28,205 in salary, pummeled Boyle from behind Tuesday during the Sharks' 6-2 victory, knocking the defenseman unconscious when his chin hit the railing. Boyle had to be removed from the ice by stretcher and spent the night in a St. Louis hospital. He was not at the team's morning skate and won't be in uniform Saturday when the Sharks host Calgary.

Some Sharks players and several people around the league maintained Lapierre deserved a stiff penalty for the hit. NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan said there was plenty to analyze in determining the penalty.

"It's undeniable that Boyle's loss of balance just prior to contact made him much more vulnerable and contributed to the violent result," Shanahan said in a prepared statement. "However, at no point does Lapierre see anything other than Boyle's numbers when he decides to finish him on this check."

Brent Burns, the Sharks' defenseman-turned-forward who sees the game from both sides, said before the penalty was announced he didn't think Lapierre was deliberately trying to inflict the kind of damage that eventuated with Boyle.

"We've seen a couple hits that have been bad lately, but you could take the worst guy in the league and I don't think he'd say he wants to hurt somebody like that," Burns said. "It's just a fast game.

"I'm not saying those hits are good. But I read on Twitter and stuff where people say this guy or that guy needs to get banned for life. That's pretty harsh when you've got a split-second to react and everybody else is moving."

Burns said players are taught to protect the puck with their backs, and when opposing players are instructed to finish their checks regardless of a player's position, such collisions are unavoidable.

"It's a hard thing, that's why it's not fixed," he said. "Guys are too good. They kind of see the hits coming and they protect themselves, and then the hitter tries to react. You see it 100 times in a period. I've been on both ends of it. And there's no malicious intent. But then you see the video and people say, 'Oh, that was pretty bad.' "

Then there is the hitting aspect in general, Burns said.

"You can't take hitting out," he said. "Everybody loves a huge hit, but as soon as it happens, they say, 'Let's crucify this guy.' "

No members of the Sharks could be reached for comment after Lapierre's suspension was announced.

In addition to Boyle being out Saturday, Sharks coach Todd McLellan wasn't sure if the defenseman will be available for any of the five games on the team's upcoming trip.

"I can't answer that question yet," McLellan said. "Would we like to have him? Absolutely. Do I expect to have him? That's a doctor-player-trainer discussion, not a coach one."

  • Left wing Marty Havlat practiced with the team for the first in six months following offseason groin surgery.

    "It was much different than being all alone," Havlat said. "For the last few weeks and months, I was the best player on the ice. But it's nice to have somebody to talk to and make jokes. Plus, it's much more fun to give passes and receive passes. It's more like a game."

    McLellan said Havlat "still has a gap to close" in terms of conditioning and game readiness in order to be activated.

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