Nichol suspended for punching Sabres' Spacek

NEW YORK -- Nashville Predators forward Scott Nichol was suspended for nine games by the NHL on Friday for his sucker-punch to the head of Buffalo defenseman Jaroslav Spacek.

The suspension was issued following a hearing conducted by conference call by NHL executive Colin Campbell. Nichol will be eligible to return Jan. 13 against Columbus. He will lose $25,267 in salary.

"The punch by Mr. Nichol was deliberate, from behind, and it occurred after the referee's whistle had stopped play," said Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice president of hockey operations. "While Mr. Spacek was injured and left the ice, it is expected he will be available to play in Buffalo's next game."

The punch came during Buffalo's 7-2 victory Thursday night. Nichol drew a game misconduct for punching Spacek in the jaw when he wasn't looking.