NEW YORK (AP) NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman cut Daniel Carcillo's suspension from 10 games to six, meaning the New York Rangers enforcer could play in the Stanley Cup finals should the club elect to return him to the lineup.
The commissioner made the change Tuesday after holding a hearing with Carcillo on Friday.
''I respect the league's decision and how they came to a decision,'' Carcillo said Tuesday at Staples Center in Los Angeles. ''I'm just happy I could say my piece and be a part of it, say my side of the story. I think he took it into account, and Gary was great. The league was great.''
Carcillo was suspended May 23 after he appeared to twice elbow linesman Scott Driscoll, who was trying to keep Carcillo away from a fight, during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. The original ban would have kept him completely out of the Cup finals, even if the series went the full seven games.
Now Carcillo, who has already served three, is eligible to play in Game 4.
''A bit of a dead man walking there for the last week and a half, so to hear that this morning as soon as you wake up it gives you a little boost, a little bit of energy,'' Carcillo said. ''Just to be able to be around the guys in three games will be great. I'm just really encouraged.''
Carcillo was originally punished under Rule 40.3 for deliberately applying physical force to an official, which carries a suspension of at least 10 games. However, Bettman decided that ''Carcillo's actions were more appropriately deemed a violation of Rule 40.4 for deliberately applying physical force to an official for the sole purpose of getting free of such official during or immediately following an altercation.''
''The National Hockey League does not and will not, under any circumstances, tolerate or condone the abuse, physical or otherwise, of our on-ice officials,'' Bettman said in a statement. ''The strict and proper enforcement of Rule 40, therefore, plays a critical role in safeguarding the integrity of the game by maintaining a safe and respectful working environment for our officials.''
The Stanley Cup finals begin Wednesday with the Rangers visiting the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Kings.
If Carcillo is activated after the suspension, he will be playing in his third Stanley Cup finals in the last five years. He made it with the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2009-10 season and Chicago Blackhawks last season.
Carcillo was traded to the Kings in July. The Rangers acquired Carcillo from the Kings in January for a conditional draft pick.
Said Carcillo: ''Looks like I would have been in the Cup final anyway.''