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Erik Haula defends Rangers' John Moore as a clean player

John Moore #17 of the New York Rangers

John Moore #17 of the New York Rangers takes a shot in the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sept. 30, 2014 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Credit: Getty Images / Elsa

Is John Moore a headhunter?

Comments from two opponents on Thursday cast a different light on the 23-year-old Rangers defenseman who was suspended Wednesday for five games for a blow to the head of Minnesota's Erik Haula. It is Moore's second suspension since the Eastern Conference Final for a similar infraction.

Haula told Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that Moore was "a class act" for phoning him Tuesday to apologize for Monday's incident. According to Russo, Moore obtained Haula's number from former teammate Justin Falk.

And Ryan Clowe, the Devils forward who is a former teammate of Moore and has had several concussions, told Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger: "I don't think he's a dirty player. I don't think he'd intentionally try to hurt anyone."

Clowe said he thought the five-game suspension "was probably appropriate. I've heard a lot of people say he should've gotten more because it's what they're trying to avoid and it was direct to the head. I'm a little biased because I know him and I don't think he's that type of player, but if they had given him eight games, I don't think that would have been bad either."

The match penalty was Moore's first penalty of the season. He had just 25 penalty minutes in 74 games during the regular season last year.

In doling out the suspension on Wednesday, the NHL's Department of Player Safety said that while Haula was following through on a shot, "Moore drives into him forcefully with the left shoulder; while initial contact is made with Haula's shoulder, the main point of contact is Haula's head."

In a video explanation of the ruling, the NHL said Moore's hit was not late, nor did he hit Haula with his elbow. However, his timing and angle of approach must assure that the hit is square to the body and the head is not the main point of contact, the league said.

The Rangers are off Thursday. Moore, who was barred for two games for a head shot on Montreal's Dale Weise in the playoffs, did not comment before the department's hearing Wednesday.

New York Sports