Stewart gets three games for hit on Kronwall; Smith should make NHL debut Thursday in San Jose

DETROIT – St. Louis’ Chris Stewart learned his fate Wednesday afternoon for shoving Niklas Kronwall from behind into the boards.

The Blues forward was suspended three games for the incident that occurred midway through the first period Tuesday in St. Louis.

“I think it’s fair,” Kronwall said. “Of course as much as he didn’t mean it, it could have turned out pretty bad. “(Brendan Shanahan) has been doing a good job all year, so I think it’s fair.”

Shanahan is the NHL vice president of player safety.

Kronwall returned in the second period.

“I think based on the fact that Kronner didn’t get hurt was a factory,” Danny Cleary said. “It was a dangerous play and we’re just thankful that he didn’t get hurt. I think three games is good.”

Cleary was asked if at some point does the league have to punish the crime and not base it on whether a injury comes of it and he said, “Well, it’s going to be hard to take it out of the players’ minds. It’s been too engrained to be physical. It happens so quickly out there, you have to be thinking so fast. I think it’s going to take some time.”

Henrik Zetterberg agrees that players need to pay the price for those kinds of actions.

“It was a dangerous hit,” he said. “Thank God he’s OK and not hurt, but it could have been a lot worse. That’s one of the things that you have to take away from the game. You can’t wait until someone is in a wheelchair to give them more games. It’s still the act that can really hurt someone, and I think it comes down to respecting players, and respecting the game.

“You don’t want to see a teammate get suspended for eight games, but we have to get that out of the game,” Zetterberg added. “It’s not helping us. It’s not helping our cause. We have to come together as players and care about each other than we do. You can still play hard and you can still play tough, but when players are in a vulnerable position like that, you have to let up.”

NOTE: According to numerous reports, rookie defenseman Brendan Smith will make his NHL debut tonight against San Jose. Smith practiced with Kronwall (even strength) and Nicklas Lidstrom (power play). Smith finished serving his five-game NHL suspension on Tuesday.

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