Earlier today, the National Hockey League announced that they have suspended Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mark Bell for the first 15 games of the upcoming season. Bell got himself into trouble for being responsible for a drunken driving hit-and-run accident in California earlier this year. After he plead no contest to the charges, the NHL levied disciplinary actions against Bell for violating the league's code of conduct while employed by one of the 30 teams.
In the days and weeks since he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of an accident, Bell plans to return to the Maple Leafs with the intent of learning from his mistake.
"Mark has made extraordinary strides in his rehabilitation. This positive progress was a material factor in reducing what could have been a lengthier suspension," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a league press release. "The NHL supports Mark's commitment to learning from his past mistakes and his efforts to move his life forward in a positive direction."
The NHL's By-Law 17 suspension of Bell will begin after doctors administering his rehabilitation in the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program give the green light on reinstatement to active player status. Even after this process is completed, Bell will have to serve jail time in California after the upcoming 2007-2008 season for pleading guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges for the drunken driving incident.
The Maple Leafs have yet to make a comment on today's development, but it should be interesting to see how things pan out with Bell throughout the season.