SAN JOSE -- Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart was suspended for three games by the NHL on Wednesday for an illegal check to the head of Rick Nash in Tuesday's game against the New York Rangers.

If Stuart does not appeal the suspension, he will not be back for the Sharks until the Oct. 17 game at Dallas, missing Thursday's game at Vancouver, Saturday's home game against Ottawa and Tuesday's game at St. Louis.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Stuart, who had his hearing with the NHL on Wednesday after the Sharks practiced, loses $55,384.62 based on his annual average salary for the suspension. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Early in the first period shortly after Nash cleared the puck out of the Rangers' end, Stuart hit Nash from the side, with his left shoulder making contact with Nash's head and chest. In his video explanation, Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's senior vice president of player safety, said Stuart did not charge Nash and did not extend his elbow or forearm.

But Shanahan said Stuart "unnecessarily extends the left side of his body upward, specifically his left shoulder, in a way that makes Nash's head the main point of contact, causing an injury," a violation of Rule 48.

"I just stepped up and hit the guy," Stuart said Wednesday before the hearing. "I've seen the replay. I didn't leave my feet, I didn't target the head. So it depends on how they want to look at it, I guess. Apparently (Nash) has a concussion, so, we'll see."


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Nash played a few more shifts in the first period but did not return for the second and third periods.

"I have a headache," Nash told reporters after Tuesday's game. "It got worse. It was a head shot. I'm concerned the way it feels."

Stuart was making his season debut after missing all six exhibition games and the Sharks' first two regular season games with an injury.

Stuart has been known as a physical defenseman, especially in the latter half of his 15-year NHL career. Early last season in one of the more memorable checks of the year, Stuart leveled Colorado's Gabriel Landeskog in the neutral zone. Landeskog said later he felt it was a clean hit.

Nash has a history with head injuries. Last season in a game against Boston, Nash was hit by Bruins forward Milan Lucic and was out of uniform for four games with a concussion.

Stuart has been suspended once before in his career, but it was in 2001 in his second season in the NHL. He was suspended for two games without pay for a cross checking incident against Florida, as he was penalized two minutes in the game for hitting the Panthers' Len Barrie in the head with his stick.

  • The Sharks assigned forward John McCarthy to Worcester but did not announce who would be recalled, although it appears now it would be a defenseman.

    THURSDAY'S GAME

    Sharks (3-0-0) at Vancouver (3-1-0), 7 p.m. CSNCA