Kyle Clifford, Toronto Maple Leafs’ player, was suspended for one game because he hit Ross Colton of Tampa Bay Lightning illegally.

Toronto Maple LeafsForward Kyle CliffordThe NHL's Department of Player Safety has suspended the player for one game. Tampa Bay LightningForward Ross Colton.

Clifford will not be available for Game 2 of the Leafs-Little Lightning first round playoff series on Wednesday due to this decision. Clifford is being suspended for the first time in his 12-year NHL history.

The veteran was not around for long before being removed from Monday's Game 1 a 5-0 victoryBy the Leafs. Clifford's first legal hit was made on the Lightning's second shift in the first period. Jan RuttaHe then skated to the side to check on Colton.

Clifford was sent to the ice, and Colton was sent to the ice. Clifford was also penalized for five minutes and given a game misconduct.

The Department of Player Safety provided a video summarizing why Clifford was removed. It said that Clifford's angle on Colton rendered him “particularly defenseless”, and Clifford still “finishes the job with force.”

The video shows that Clifford, having seen only Colton's numbers for some while, approaches Colton from behind. He delivers a powerful check to Colton and drives him dangerously into his boards. It is important that you note that Colton did not suddenly or unexpectedly move prior to contact, making it illegal. Although Clifford may have made some legal contact, it is still a forceful hit for a defenseless player without the puck.

The fact that Clifford was in Toronto's lineup to play Game 1 was a highly scrutinized decision. Clifford was traded to St. Louis by the Leafs in November. He appeared in 23 regular season matches and also played nine games for the American Hockey League's Marlies.

Keefe was impressed by the veteran upon his return to NHL. Clifford was chosen by Keefe over a fourth-liner Jason SpezzaTo complete the fourth line of the team with Colin BlackwellAnd Wayne Simmonds.

Keefe said that despite Clifford's performance in Game 1, he had no regrets about putting him in.

“I didn’t like Cliff’s penalty. Keefe admitted that this is not a hit you could make there. “He crossed the line today and paid the price. But, the reason I made this decision was only partially [because of]Not only is his physicality great, but he also excels in skating and defense. When Kyle Clifford was in the lineup, our fourth line has been the most successful. It's so simple for me.”

After Tuesday's practice, it wasn't clear who would replace Clifford in the fourth line on Wednesday.

Both sides should expect another physical contest if Game 2 goes the same way as Game 1. Clifford was among four participants in Monday's tilt that were subject to supplemental discipline.

Toronto's Wayne Simmonds & Tampa's Pat MaroonBoth were given a 10-minute misconduct and fined $2,500. Lightning Corey PerryEarned 16 penalty minutes for the night, a misconduct and was fined $2,500

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