Ranger says Boulton called to apologize for hit

Before the NHL handed down it's permanent six-game suspension on Eric Boulton, the Thrashers forward made a phone call.

According to a report in The St. Petersburg Times, Boulton called the Lightning's Paul Ranger to apologize for his elbow hit in a game last Thursday.

"He called and felt pretty bad," Ranger told the newspaper. "He apologized. I don't think he meant to cheap shot me or anything. It was a natural kind of reaction [from him]. I kind of fumbled for the puck, and he tried to catch a piece of me."

Still, Ranger sustained a Grade 1 concussion and a hairline fracture of the jaw.

"It's kind of tough to remember," Ranger told The Times. "You kind of lose control of your body when you get your bell rung."

Ranger added that he hopes to return to action Wednesday against New Jersey after practicing Monday with a jaw guard and visor.

The hit has prompted a slew of outraged responses from across the league -- including a profanity-laced tirade from Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella, who apologized for his language on Friday.

Boulton will forfeit about $15,306 with the money going to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund. He will be eligible to return Nov. 5 at Philadelphia.