VIDEO: Rene Bourque Suspended Five Games For Elbowing Nicklas Backstrom

Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque has been suspended five games by the NHL for elbowing Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom Tuesday.

During the third period of Washington's 3-1 win over Calgary, Bourque delivered an elbow to Backstrom at center ice. Backstrom temporarily returned to the game, but ultimately left with 3:19 remaining. Backstrom has not been made available for comment since Tuesday night, but participated in off-ice workouts Wednesday, according to head coach Dale Hunter. Backstrom is listed as "day-to-day."

While the team did not go so far as to say that Backstrom was being evaluated for a concussion, Backstrom's brother Kristoffer tweeted Wednesday that Nick did indeed undergo concussion testing.

The National Hockey League's Department Of Player Safety's Brendan Shanahan explained the decision:

"When we look at the events of this game, we believe Bourque's assertion that this was an instinctive reflex rather than a premeditated attempt to injure. However as all of the parties in the hearing agreed, this reckless elbow to the head is indefensible."

Shanahan also cited the fact that Backstrom was injured on the play and Bourque's prior history as factors in making the decision. Bourque's hit was a violation of Rule 48 as an illegal check to the head.

Bourque will be eligible to return for the Flames January 17.

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