Abbotsford Heat head coach Troy Ward knows a thing or two about suspensions, having served as the ECHL’s discipline chief during the 2001-02 season.
So when Heat centre Paul Byron was handed a three-game ban by the AHL on Tuesday, Ward was satisfied that the punishment fit the crime.
Last Friday, Byron had knocked Ryan Thang of the Milwaukee Admirals head-first into the end boards as the latter was raising his arms in celebration following a second-period goal.
Byron received a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct on the play. Thang was helped off the ice and did not return to the game, though he was able to return for Saturday’s rematch.
“It seems like it’s fair – Paul is a first offender,” Ward said, while emphasizing that he’s not familiar with all the inner workings of the AHL’s suspension protocol. “Obviously he (Thang) had no chance to stop himself, based on his posture.”
Byron’s suspension begins Wednesday, when the Heat play the Toronto Marlies on the road. He’s eligible to return for Abbotsford’s Nov. 1 road date with the Hamilton Bulldogs.
In the meantime, Carter Bancks is the leading candidate fill Byron’s spot as the No. 2 centre. At the Heat’s practice at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum on Tuesday, Bancks skated on a line with Dustin Sylvester and Jon Rheault.
Krys Kolanos, who has yet to play a regular season game for the Heat due to nagging lower-body injuries, could also factor into the top-six forward group.
“He practiced today 100 per cent, but I don’t know if he’s ready totally yet,” Ward said of Kolanos. “I’ll have to manage that situation, see how it resumes tomorrow at the pregame skate.”