Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s disciplinarian, decided to punish Sabres’ repeat mugger Patrick Kaleta over the phone, suspending him for five games yesterday with no requirement for a face-to-face meeting.

Kaleta’s third career suspension (among many other similar incidents) was a result of his reckless and dangerous hit from behind to Rangers center Brad Richards in the third period of the Blueshirts’ 3-2 shootout victory on Sunday. The hit left Richards writhing in pain on the Garden ice, but not seriously injured.

Richards missed practice yesterday, but coach John Tortorella seems to expect him to play in tonight’s Garden match against the Flyers (11-11-1).

“He’ll be fine,” Tortorella said.

According to Shanahan’s video explanation and the league’s mandated policy, the lack of a long-term injury was one factor in limiting the amount of games for which Kaleta was banned.

“Kaleta is in full control of this play,” Shanahan said, “and has ample opportunity to make a better decision.”

What remains to be seen is whether Kaleta will take Shanahan’s message to heart in the same way he took it in the wallet, forfeiting $76,219.25 of salary. Luckily for Kaleta’s own health, the forced absence will keep him out for next Tuesday’s matchup, when the Rangers and Sabres square off in Buffalo.

“I just play hard, and I was on the penalty kill trying to do my job,” Kaleta told the Buffalo News before he spoke with Shanahan. When asked if he had anything to say to Richards, there was an eight-second pause before Kaleta said, “I’m fine for right now.”