Its been an unpleasant week for Buffalo Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta. After giving a head shot to Columbus Blue Jackets defensman Jack Johson, Kaleta was dealt a ten game suspension from NHL chief disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. Part of the reason he was given such a heavy punishment is the fact that he’s a repeat offender.
After being forced out of the next ten games, one would think Kaleta has received the message that he drastically needs to change his style of play before any more suspensions come his way, which will undoubtedly only get heavier. For what its worth, it appears he’s at least acknowledging that fact. He addressed the situation today, and it looks like he’s trying to move in the right direction.
“I’ve been changing my game over the past little while. Everyone who’s watched the Sabres and has paid close attention has seen it,” he said. “Like I said, I just need to keep continuing to get better and do what’s best for the team and try to be a positive influence on what’s going on here.”
Acknowledging a needed change is one thing, but actually fulfilling it is another. For all we know, Kaleta may be playing good soldier to the media while this suspension keeps him out of commission, only to come back and change nothing. Words won’t fix the situation, and you have to hope he knows that.
As mentioned yesterday, Kaleta has at least one player in his corner willing to help; Minnesota Wild forward, and lightning rod for controversy Matt Cooke. Kaleta was pretty surprised when Cooke reached out to offer advise for his current situation.
“It was kind of cool because as you guys know, I don’t really expect to have a lot of friends on other teams and stuff like that,” he said. “But it’s interesting because I don’t know his background or anything, but I’m assuming he’s worked pretty hard to get to where he is.
“We’re sort of in the same boat there so he kind of understands where I’m coming from and what I have to do to stay in the league and what I have to do to help out the team. It was cool in that aspect and I respect everything he said and hopefully I can use what he said and help myself and my game out.”
Again, it sounds like Kaleta is at the very least saying the right things. We’ll find out once he returns from his suspension just how much he really means it.