Vancouver, British Columbia Marty McSorley was found guilty of assault with a weapon but won't be sent to jail for his two-fisted stick attack on an opponent.
Now he needs the NHL's permission to play again.
A Canadian court found McSorley guilty Friday for the Feb. 21 blow that sent Vancouver Canucks forward Donald Brashear sprawling to the ice.
McSorley, a 17-year NHL veteran who was with the Boston Bruins at the time, won't have any charges go on his record as long as he completes 18 months of probation. He was ordered not to play against Brashear during that time, in Canada or the United States.
A lawyer for McSorley said the player might appeal.
Players and the NHL say the case shouldn't have gone to court.
"I've played the game for a long time," McSorley said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for the game. ... I'm extremely glad to see Donald back on the ice and I do plan to address this with Donald in person."
McSorley was suspended indefinitely by the NHL after the hit missing the final 23 games of last season and is an unrestricted free agent. He must meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman before he can be considered for reinstatement.
"The court today said that its focus was solely on the charge against Mr. McSorley. This was not a trial of the game or the NHL," Bettman said Friday.
"Clearly, this incident was not representative of NHL hockey or NHL players. While the court's decision today brings closure to this aspect of the incident, it does not alter our position that we will continue to punish severely acts of inappropriate conduct in our game."
Brashear, whose Canucks played Florida on Friday, issued a statement.
"The court in Vancouver has made its decision and it's time to move on now," Brashear said. "I'd like to thank everyone for their support, especially my family and my teammates. It's time to concentrate on the season."
The trial was the first for an on-ice attack by an NHL player since Dino Ciccarelli, then with the Minnesota North Stars, was sentenced in 1988. He received one day in jail and a $1,000 fine for hitting Toronto's Luke Richardson with his stick.
The 37-year-old McSorley, one of the league's most notorious enforcers, testified he tried to hit Brashear in the shoulder to provoke him into fighting and didn't mean to hit his head.
But Judge William Kitchen disagreed, saying "Brashear was struck as intended."
McSorley "slashed for the head. A child, swinging as at a tee-ball, would not miss. A housekeeper swinging a carpet-beater would not miss. An NHL player would never, ever miss," Kitchen said.
Brashear's head hit the ice. He briefly lost consciousness, and had a concussion and memory lapses. He returned to play after several weeks and has fully recovered.
Brashear testified he has no memory of what happened.