(Reuters) - St. Louis Blues forward Maxim Lapierre has been suspended five games for boarding San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle earlier this week, the National Hockey League (NHL) said on Friday.
The incident occurred early in the first period of Tuesday's game in St. Louis and resulted in Boyle, who had lost balance while chasing the puck, having his head slammed against the boards and being left unconscious.
Lapierre was assessed a major penalty for checking from behind, along with a game misconduct.
"It's undeniable that Boyle's loss of balance just prior to contact made him much more vulnerable and contributed to the violent result," NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan said in a video on the league's website.
"However, at no point does Lapierre see anything other than Boyle's numbers, when he decides to finish him on this check ... if Lapierre does not illegally hit him in the numbers, Boyle's face does not crash violently into the boards."
Under the terms of the league's collective bargaining agreement Lapierre will forfeit more than $28,000, which will go toward a players' emergency assistance fund.
Lapierre, 28, has already served one game of his suspension.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Peter Rutherford)