Sun, Sep 30, 2007 - Page 23 News List

NHL suspends Philadelphia right wing for hit to head

AFP , TORONTO

The Ottawa Senators' Dean McAmmond speaks to the media in Ottawa on Thursday. The Philadelphia Flyers' Steve Downie was suspended for knocking McAmmond out in a preseason game on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AP

The NHL suspended Philadelphia Flyers right wing Steve Downie for 20 games on Friday, four days after his hit knocked Ottawa Senators center Dean McAmmond unconscious in an exhibition game.

In the incident on Tuesday, Downie launched himself into McAmmond near the Flyers' net. McAmmond fell to the ice and was taken off on a stretcher.

NOTHING BROKEN

McAmmond was released from hospital on Wednesday after tests showed no broken bones.

A statement from the NHL said that the fact that Downie launched himself at McAmmond's head accounted for the severity of the penalty.

"Philadelphia Flyers forward Steve Downie has been suspended for 20 NHL games, without pay, as a result of delivering a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Dean McAmmond during an NHL pre-season game on September 25," the league's statement said.

"Over the last several months, the league has met with players, coaches, general managers and owners on the subject of hits to the head," NHL Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said.

"While all of the stakeholders in our league agree that hitting is an important part of the essence of the NHL game, all were also unanimous in the belief that where a player deliberately targets an opponent's head, the conduct should be subject to review and the possible assessment of supplemental discipline," he said.

`DELIBERATE'

"The hit was deliberate, dangerous and has no place in our league," Campbell said.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Downie will forfeit US$63,100 during his suspension.

The money will go to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said the suspension seemed "like a lot of games," but added that the team respected Campbell's judgment.

"We will live with it," Holmgren said. "I was with Steve during the hearing and was with him after the verdict."

"He is very upset and understandably so," Holmgren said. "He understands the ramifications and he is prepared to live with this decision."

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