BUFFALO (AP) -Islanders defenseman Sean Hill was hit with a 20-game suspension by the NHL on Friday - just hours before New York faced elimination from the playoffs - for violating the league's performance-enhancing substances program.
Hill's ban began Friday night when the Islanders faced the Buffalo Sabres in Game 5 of the first round Eastern Conference playoff series. The earliest Hill could return to the lineup would be the Stanley Cup finals.
Islanders' spokesman Chris Botta said Hill did not travel with the team to the arena for Friday night's game. He said he did not know whether Hill had traveled back to Long Island.
New York started the day in a 3-1 hole to top-seeded Buffalo in the best-of-seven matchup.
The 37-year-old Hill signed a one-year deal worth $600,000 last summer and is eligible to be a free agent again in the upcoming offseason. If the Islanders don't play 20 playoff games this year, Hill's suspension will continue next season.
Hill had one goal and 24 assists in 81 games this season, his first with the Islanders.
He did not record a point in the Islanders' first four playoff games against Buffalo.
The 37-year-old from Duluth, Minn., was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the eighth round of the 1988 NHL entry draft. In 841 career regular-season games, Hill has recorded 60 goals and 229 assists for 289 points.
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