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Flyers' Downie Gets 20 Games


The National Hockey League has handed down its verdict on the Flyers' Steve Downie.
Colin Campbell, the NHL's executive vice-president and director of hockey operations, has suspended Downie for 20 games for his vicious hit on Ottawa Senators forward Dean McAmmond in Thursday's exhibition game.
The 20 games is the fifth longest suspension handed down by the league. New York Islanders' Chris Simon holds the longest at 25 games for his two-handed stick attack to the face of Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers last season.

Enough? Too much?

Personally, I'm a little surprised. I thought it would have been in the five game-range.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  September 28, 2007; 2:36 PM ET
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I'm still not convinced it was 20-games dirty.

Yeah, though I expected even a little less, maybe 2-3 games. But 20? No way.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | September 28, 2007 2:45 PM | Report abuse

The fact that Simon got 25 for swinging his stick at Hollweg and Downie gets 20 games for his hit seems very strange. To me, Simon should have gotten more than 25, but even if he had gotten 30 or 40, 20 for Downie seems high.

It was a high hit, and a dirty hit, but there have been plenty of other hits that have been bad that resulted in very minor suspensions. Seems to me that maybe Downie got the book thrown at him because he wasn't going to be in the NHL anyhow, so might as well try to make an example out of him.

Posted by: Jeff | September 28, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

That's absurd.

Posted by: Wes Mantooth | September 28, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I think the NHL League office is looking at the NFL League office, and taking a cue from them. Start to REALLY penalize players for actions that are not wanted in and around the game. I think it's excessive, but to send a message, it needs to be.

Posted by: lordthrog | September 28, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

10 games is the max I would have given him. Yeah he launched himself but you would never see a guy get a 20 game equivalent suspension in the NFL for a similar hit. Sillyness.

Posted by: Zero | September 28, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Maybe they are sending a message, enough of the head hunting.

Posted by: TJ | September 28, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

This doesn't surprise me at all. Downie is not an NHL level player and wasn't going to make the NHL roster. So, dropping a 20 game suspension on him doesn't really mean that much. It does open up the NHL to some major criticism when a legit NHLer does something similar and they are given a 5 game seat though. Or maybe Campbell is tightening the reigns...but I doubt it.

Tarik, did you ever find out about the opening of the NHL Store in Manhattan?

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | September 28, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

I think also that this is preseason had something to do with the decision. The Commish's office wants to slap down newbies and career minor-leaguers who go head-hunting after true NHL talent. Also I think the league has a vested interest in showing a marginal fan-base that it is serious about playing a clean sport, esp. with how many concussions have cropped up in the last few years. Finally, the Flyers need to be warned not to rekindle the days of the Broad Street Bullies.

Posted by: Jim | September 28, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Freakin -- still waiting to hear back from the NHL peeps. they must all be in London.

Posted by: Tarik | September 28, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

And the pubs don't close for at least another 2 1/2 hours. Get comfortable.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | September 28, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

And then there are phone booths

Posted by: Blank | September 28, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Excessive by WWF standards, and just about right if Campbell suddenly decided to preside over a *hockey* league. Where oh where will no-talent assclowns go, if the NHL forbids them to substitute cheapshots for the talent that hardclean hockey requires? Less goons doesnt mean less hitting. It means MORE HOCKEY.
So Downie sits twenty games for trying to make a roster via ear mail. It's a start!

Posted by: redlineblue | September 28, 2007 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I was totally surprised based on previous suspension lengths. This ranks up there in the top 5 suspensions ever. I completely expected 10 games or so given all the talk about head injuries. Last season I would have expected 5 games.

All that said, I have no problem with the length of the suspension. I haven't been one to want the league to step in about head injuries, but it's a serious issue and the players are absolutely not enforcing anything themselves. If this is the only way things are going to get safer, then so be it.

Posted by: false_cause | September 28, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Still: this is the preseason. While guys are fighting for jobs, you don't want the NHL to become the NFL loosing players in rather meaningless games. Even guys on the fringe should realize that--the way to make NHL rosters is through good, legal hits and anything less than that in the preseason is just ridiculous!

Posted by: Icarus | September 28, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Just shows how lost the NHL is. I said 2-3 games, I would have expected 5. I think part of the problem is that the NHL has no policy on head shots unless it's with an elbow or something. It's time to revisit the ruling.

It's also time to revisit the equipment. All that hard plastic protects the players hitting so much that they don't feel the hits they dish out. So, as a result, they'll hit harder. The head is still relatively unprotected, and hockey players are notorious for not straping the helmet on tight to begin with. So, not only are the helmets not properly secured allowing the hit to directly impact the head, they're basically inadequate protection from hits.

It's like old time boxing. When the boxers wore just gloves with no padding, there were fewer KO's because it hurt the striker as much as it hurt the guy getting pelted in the head. That's why you rarely see hockey boxing matches go on very long. It hurts hitting plastic shoulderpads and helmets, not to mention heads.

Posted by: Greg S. | September 28, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I think they are setting a baseline for match penalties and hits to the head. 20 games equates to 25% of the season (like a 4 game suspension in the NFL). This is about precedent setting and it's a message to the players. Head shots are going to get you tossed for a quarter of the season.

Posted by: 2Bobs | September 28, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Greg S., not necessarily disagreeing with the helmet issue, but McAmmond's helmet was not the issue in the Downie hit.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | September 28, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

lets be honest here, this suspension doesn't matter. the kid wasn't going to make the roster. it does not keep him from playing down for their minor league team. the suspension means absolutely nothing. That said, the correct penalty would have been in the 5-10 game range. Although the suspension doesnt mean anything, the NHL does need to do a better job cracking down on shots to the head. Oh and....less equipment is not the answer....

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

If he hadn't left his feet and just lowered his shoulder and gone through the guy, we'd be talking about a good clean hit. Poor Downie will never see the NHL again.

Posted by: Steve in Jersey | September 28, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

The TSN story contains this language: "Downie will miss the first 20 regular season and/or playoff games (in addition to the last Flyers' pre-season game - Saturday vs. NY Rangers) that he is a member of the Flyers' 23-man roster." I wonder if that means he will serve it whenever he actually does make the Flyers' roster, even if it's not this season.

Posted by: norske | September 28, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm kinda surprised myself on the length of the suspension. My first thought is on the pre-season -- I'm in agreement with the others that brought it up. There is no need to go headhunting in a meaningless game. It's not intimidation, its just stupid. Hockey is a rough sport but if this was the old days as some want to relive, Downie might have left on a stretcher too. That really wouldn't advance hockey much.

The suspension also leaves a cloud over Downie. Besides setting an example for other prospects, Downie's career might be over for the NHL. What team would ever put him on their roster knowing he can't play for 20 games? Could that have been the commisioner's intent?

Posted by: Rando | September 28, 2007 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Freakinandpeakin - No, the helmet wasn't directly involved. The shoulder hit was to the face. If the NHL had a visor ruling, it might not have been as bad. But still, helmets have not had a redesign since the 80's. There was a lot of talk in the 90 and early 00's due to the number of concussions. There was nothing going to prevent Downy's hit from concussing. But did you see the helmet almost come off of his head? The helmet doesn't do any good if it leaves the head.

Posted by: Greg S. | September 28, 2007 7:21 PM | Report abuse

Fehr is playing tonight, that is good news huh?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Eric Fehr did not dress tonight, the Scoresheet is very wrong tonight.

Neither did #56, the number they gave him.

Posted by: Kazer | September 28, 2007 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Wasn't Downie the kid that laid a beatdown on one of his own teammates in juniors a couple years back? He was given a second chance with the Flyers, not so sure he'll be given a third. He'll be little more than a footnote, another marginally able player who tried to make a name for himself by attempting to injure other players. Cut from the same bolt of cloth as Jordan Tootoo.

It should be noted that there is a difference between trying to hurt a player, and trying to injure a player. From what I sawof the Downie hit, there was intent to injure.

Posted by: Steve | September 28, 2007 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Thats 5 games at most come on. The NHL is afraid to be the NHL anymore. The reputation they want to change is what many fans love about hockey. Sure, he left his feet a little. Who cares? The guy came around the net like an idiot head down his buddies didnt tell him to look out he got steamrolled and its his own fault. If you skate behind the opponents goal head down you are smoked every time. I would have gotten 60 games.

Posted by: Dale | September 29, 2007 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Downie is just a kid so they went tough to make an example. 20 games is way too much.

Posted by: Rob | September 29, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

From the philly daily news:
"We sent out a tape (about head shots)," (Colin) Campbell said. "We made a tape after all these meetings and every team in the league received this tape for their players. And we sent out a supplementary discipline reminder, which we do every year. We also included what was read on the press release regarding all the criteria involved."

That tape detailed what would draw the ire of the league, and the keys were:

* Suspensions would follow when a player targets an opponent's head; when a player launches himself by leaving his feet to hit a player in the head area; when the hit to the head is delivered to an unsuspecting opponent; and the timing (lateness) of the hit;

Downie pretty much gave the NHL a new tape to send out showing how to do all of these things at once. If they are each worthy of suspension then together 20 games makes sense. I want the hitting and fighting to remain but there is no need to launch yourself at a guy. If Downie hadn't left his feet, he still would have flattened him (and still probably have injured him)and it would have been completely legal.

Posted by: odc | September 29, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how much of it stemmed from the words of the Sens threatening him, and the Steve Moore incident.

Posted by: Whiter Mage | September 29, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing that the suspension length had more to do with Downie's reputation and his problems at other levels. In that light, it's warranted, even if it doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things.

Posted by: PPE | October 1, 2007 5:01 PM | Report abuse

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