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Flyers Put On Notice

The NHL has apparently had enough with the Flyers after yet another suspension.


The NHL told Holmgren the Flyers can expect more severe discipline -- including a fine, suspension of coaches, a combination of both, or something more -- in the future.
Cote is the fifth Flyer, dating to the preseason, to be suspended. The latest incident occurred Saturday night, when Cote elbowed Stars rookie defenseman Matt Niskanen in the head with 2:14 left in regulation in a 4-1 loss to visiting Dallas. Niskanen was OK after being hit.

Can't say I'm surprised about the warning. Two suspensions in the same season might be a coincidence. Five suspensions, clearly, signals a trend.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 3, 2007; 5:54 PM ET
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While I agree that we don't want a bunch of thugs roaming the league, I do think they are getting a tad flip about some of the suspensions. The one in the Bruins game was a joke. Penalty yes, but intent to injure, no. Check the video, Hartnell was pulling up when he hit him.

They say the "NFL" stands for "No Fun League". Sometimes, it seems like the NHL is becoming the "No Hits League"

Posted by: old time hockey | December 3, 2007 6:35 PM | Report abuse

I think the NHL has lost sight of what Americans like to see, lots of rough housing to supplement a few nice goals. How many times can you go see Disney on ice? ZZZ. If it werent for Ovey, I would have left the new disney on ice. Mario Lemieux finally got his way and took out everything that he hated about hockey, but most of us liked to see. It was like a real WWF. It's all about entertainment and filling the seats. The Caps ticket sales are embarassing with the new disney on ice. Attendance was much higher in the 80's with Stevens Berube May et al era.

With the most exciting player in the league, it is still not filling the house, not even when the away team has more fans.

There are too many officials in the game, they puck is always hitting them and disrupting plays.

Posted by: Walt Disney | December 3, 2007 7:53 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree.
Hartnell did not deserve a suspension.
Downie and Boulerice, yes they definitely deserved it. Cote lost his cool and took a run. Three games is a bit much, 1 or 2 would have sufficed. Randy Jones' hit was borderline at best. Look at the play full speed, that was going to happen regardless of how much Jones tried to stop.

I do think the NHL needs to allow the players to be more physical out there, obviously within the rules. The minute any contact takes place now, there is a penalty called. Seriously, let the players fight, let them hit and take legal hits. Sometimes it seems as if the refs are facilitators of some of the unnecessary violence out there.

With the 'new' NHL, there are way too many questionable stick infractions. I cant stand watching a game where the powerplays are 8 for one team and 9 for the other. Thats damn near the entire game played in special teams.

While I am on my soapbox...get rid of the shootout. I worked for years in the UHL (now the IHL, again) and they didnt have OT, just a shootout. Its the most anticlimactic way to end a game. Just put 10 minutes on the clock, let the boys play 4 on 4 and someone will score, most likely within 7 minutes.

Why should a fast paced, team game come down to one shooter and a goalie?

Terrible...Bettman is ruining the league. Im telling you, if they ever decide to increase the size of the nets like they considered during the recent off seasons, im completely done with this game...its back to curling for me.

Posted by: jonny | December 3, 2007 7:55 PM | Report abuse

I can't say anyone should be surprised, Tarik. Holmgren as a player was downright dangerous. His actions at the University of MInnesota are as responsible as any for the ultra-strict anti fighting rules and penalties in college. In the NHL, he seemed more intent on maintaining his street thug creds than playing hockey. When it turned out he was a certifiable drunk, I thought, maybe there was some hope for him if he could get dried out. Apparently not.

BTW, Semin's problems started while he was being roughed up behind the play by one of HOlmgren's thugs.

Posted by: Old Bob | December 3, 2007 7:56 PM | Report abuse

@ Old Bob

First Bob, I do believe your comments to be outright defamatory about Holmgren's personal life. If you worked for the newspaper you could get sued and fired.

Second, blaming Semin's problems on 'thugs' is completely misplaced. Hockey is hockey and players get roughed up all the time during the play and behind the play. Deal with it.

Is it Holgren's fault that the Caps cant draw more than 11g for a game? Sure, why not. And I am sure Bobby Clarke gave GMGM tips on which free agents to sign, so lets blam the Flyers for the lack of production from Nylander and Kozlov while we are at it.

Posted by: Jonny | December 3, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

After the flyers last season you can't blame them for playing with a little added "intensity," but there has to be a line. I'm glad the NHL has finally decided to take some real action in this. Don't get me wrong i LOVE good check, but these filthy hits the Flyers have been doling out are just inexcusable.

Posted by: DC FURY | December 3, 2007 8:20 PM | Report abuse

If you split the difference between the Flyers style of play and Shultz playing patty cake, you'd have a good clean hit.

Posted by: Bobo | December 3, 2007 9:03 PM | Report abuse

"Hockey is hockey and players get roughed up all the time during the play." True, hockey isn't for your weak at heart. It isn't for the girlie men (and before anyone gets offended, I'm a girl, I can say it. Even though I'm sure some of you will be offended anyway.) That being said, Semin's problems did start from the 9/28 game against the Flyers. He was blatantly hit with someone's stick (can't remember who, as with most thugs they hit and run) and went down awkwardly, which is when he sprained his ankle. And before anyone says that the refs never called a penalty--its true, but then again when the 3 blind mice are reffing when does anything ever get called?

Posted by: SLM | December 3, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

DC Fury: Well said.

Posted by: SLM | December 3, 2007 10:00 PM | Report abuse

I hate the Flyers. Always have, always will.

Posted by: tokyo fan | December 3, 2007 10:24 PM | Report abuse

there's a difference between a cowardly hit from behind (bertuzzi) and a face to face fight.

Posted by: jim* | December 3, 2007 11:34 PM | Report abuse

How does gmgm still have a job?

Posted by: yougottabekiddingme | December 4, 2007 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Sure, everyone likes a physical hockey game, but can anyone really tell me that Hartnell just wants to finish his checks? The kids on the Reston Raiders hockey club know the difference between a cheap hit and finishing your check and they are only 10!

There is NOT a fine line between the physical play the NHL wants to promote and cheap shots. Just compare the hard hitting physical game style played by Alex Ovechkin with other "athletes" like Avery and Ruutu.

For hockey to expand as a sport, it needs to bury its goonish reputation and focus on the beneficial aspects of clean, hard, checking within the overall sport of hockey.

Posted by: Hockey Dad | December 4, 2007 1:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm tempted to say "let them play" but the NHL has changed a lot since then. The reason suspensions were down is that I feel like players had more respect for each other.

One of the things that has to change is that penalties need to be called for the high elbow every time. On the flip side, stop calling that wussy "look I tapped you with my stick" penalties, because they really slow down the game. The elbowing penalty doesn't slow down the game, because everyone in the entire arena is yelling at the refs and the players because a dirty hit just happened.

Hockey is fun to watch because it's fast. Unfortunately, this is why hockey does not work on TV. If you want to keep the game fast, then you need to keep the game moving - which means calling less stupid penalties.

The phantom hooking calls don't even make sense to me. If you called the penalty everywhere, then teams would play 3 on 3 for 45 minutes of the game. Subjective calls lead to more frustration from fans and players with the refs, and more likely that our sport could turn into the NBA.

Posted by: Raber | December 4, 2007 3:52 AM | Report abuse

That first paragraph should read "since the 80s" and "suspensions were down in the 80s" - I think this is true compared to today.

Posted by: Raber | December 4, 2007 3:54 AM | Report abuse

The Flyers need to send some of that intensity down I-95 to the phone booth.
Remember #32. The good ol' days.

Posted by: gawferstud | December 4, 2007 8:27 AM | Report abuse

You can't have it both ways. Since the NHL has the instegator rule - players are not plicing the ice. Dirty plays and cheap shots to the head are going to happen. when they do suspensions need to be enforced by the league. Its a side effect of their rule.

If the players police the ice - you just get your punishment in the form of Brash.

Wasn't it the philly game where Clark was sitting out for most of the game because of this?

Posted by: cs | December 4, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse


I couldn't agree more. If you haven't seen Darren Drager's report on the attitude of the players toward the rule, check out:

Posted by: Fred | December 4, 2007 9:08 AM | Report abuse

1) This whole notion that the Flyers are being told to play that way is nonsense. Take each incident individually, and punish the individual on a case by case basis.
2) If you can find proof that these players are being told to go out and injure the opposition lets see it. Else this is just a media-created conspiracy/nonsense.
3) Don't like those incidents? Fine/increase the suspension length!

Posted by: Fauxrumors | December 4, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I have a beef against the Flyers because in recent pre-seasons two of our better players have been injured in games versus the Flyers. Last year it was Pettinger and this year it was Semin.

Pettinger hasn't been the same since. He once looked like a potential 25 goals/year two way forward, but now looks like a fringe player.

Posted by: red dragon | December 4, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

@ hockey dad,

I agree that the true thug needs to go away, but I really do believe that Hartnell got jobbed. (Not so much Cote, Jones, etc.) The Bruin was on his knees playing the puck. If you make a play at the puck you have to expect someone will stop by and make a play. Hartnell was coming over to make the stop, but the puck was gone by then and he let up. Just because someone falls oddly or hits the boards in a funny way doesn't mean its a penalty. Its a rough sport and people get hurt in the ordinary course of play. I've seen guys lose an edge and go blade first into the dasher and break a leg or blow out a knee.

Maybe the Flyers are extra dirty this year and it is the coaching staff. But, I don't think that you can put the Hartnell hit in the same boat. A half second earlier and its a clean shot. You say there is no fine line, but there is. And, a big part of that line is timing.

And, I still hate the Flyers.

Posted by: old time hockey | December 4, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Everyone read CS' post, and read it again. The players need to police the ice, and watch out for each other. There are those who don't give a damn about hitting up high, and obviously Hartnell is one of them, as was Holmgren. The players are probably given more ice time for hitting, who knows?
Hartnell hits Gordon one night and ALberts the next game, same crap. I guarantee you, with no instigator, Hartnell wouldnt have laid that hit on Alberts because someone from the Caps would have laid him out. But nooooo, Clarkie tries to honor the code and gets kicked out of the game. Freaking Bettman - the sooner the instigator is gone, the better.

Posted by: Shaggy | December 4, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

And by the way, Semin stepped on the goal cage and twisted his ankle against the Flyers, it wasn't a slash if memory serves me correctly.

Posted by: Shaggy | December 4, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Update: There will be a practice at 10:30 tomorrow at KCI. The 6 p.m. session (it's just a light skate) at the other location, however, remains closed to the public.

OK, outdoor practice at 6:00pm and it's closed to the public. Where do you think that could be held? HHHHHMMMMMmmmm, Chevy Chase Country Club! Nice job George, how much is the Team or you being paid for that one? Or is this part of your networking tour for future employment? Really, how bad can it get with this guy? Here are the points of what is wrong with this Pony Show!
1) This is the NHL, you have a new coach who is trying to WIN. This time between games should be used for getting the players and the assistant coaches' (gmgm handcuffed BB to) used to his systems. It should also be used to rest and rehab injuries.
2) The night time skate held OUTDOORS with expected winds of 35mph and 33 degrees will be the players 2nd skate of the day. George as Bill Murray once said, "You know, this IS the Cold and Flu season!" Can't wait to see the injury list a couple of days from now. Hopefully the high winds will blow the DEADWOOD out of the Capitals Front Office.
3) It's NOT a Community development or a Public Relations Move. "IT'S CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC!" It's a George McPhee looking for future employment tour!

I have nothing against CCCC, I played there as a kid. Also, the people there are very nice. It comes down to; this is an NHL team TREAT IT LIKE ONE gmgm. Yes I know it was done last year, however looking at their record maybe the team needs more time working and less gimmick moves. What is the plan for the future of this team?

RUMOR MILL: gmgm's next move. I did hear that George is working on selling the team to an ownership group that owns and runs a retirement community down in Florida. I think BB maybe familiar with this story.

Posted by: someone else who knows | December 4, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Philly. They create their teams to intimidate, hit hard, and play rough. These are the ones clearly identified as tough guys from TSN.CA.

Now I like a rough game, but to build a team with this number is a bit over the top. The Flyers have always been known as dirty players. They like to hit high and there's no indication that their management thinks they shouldn't.

This is why I root for the Caps, Rangers, and anyone playing Philly.

Steve Downie:
Career potential: Third line agitator.

Ben Eager:
Assets: Has the size and strength to play an up-and-down game from the left wing. Thrives in the rough going, and is an improving offensive player. Can also drop the gloves with aplomb.

Scott Hartnel:
Assets: Has improving offensive instincts and upside. Plays with tremendous poise and defensive makeup. Is versatile enough to play any forward position. Loves to crash and bang.

Derian Hatcher:
Flaws: His mean streak can sometimes get the best of him and he can be prone to taking bad penalties. Lacks mobility and can get burned to the outside.

Posted by: Greg S. | December 4, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I suspected that the 'outdoor practice' was at the Chevy Chase Club. This is just to attract the "real" hockey fans: ones that don't complain about the price of beer.

Posted by: Clarendon | December 4, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

"The Bruin was on his knees playing the puck. If you make a play at the puck you have to expect someone will stop"

That's why the NFL institued rules for laying out receivers in vulnerable positions.. Players are bigger, faster, and better trained. They hit harder. Therefore they are more prone to injury when making plays that leaves them exposed.

If the Bruin didn't go to his knees to play the puck, he would have been called a coward for not wanting to take a hit. He didn't, and then paid the extreme consequence.. Where's the sport in that?

Posted by: vulnerable position | December 4, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

years ago, I hurried back to DC after celebrating New Year's Eve in NYC to see Wayne Gretzky play in one of the infrequent Oilers games here. I hurried back for nothing: he didn't play. He had suffered a knee injury as a result of a cheap hit by one of the Samuelsons.

Hitting is part of the game, but every player knows where the line is between a good hit and an illegal hit. The players are all union members of the same union, and I am amazed that they haven't figured out that they need to police this themselves. They are the product, and if one of the stars gets hurt, the game suffers. They need to impose sanctions on members who injure a fellow members with illegal hits.

I like hitting as much as the next guy. But I really enjoy seeing Ovie and Semin dancing on the ice- undressing the opposition- and scoring. If some goon takes one of them out, the Caps lose and the fans lose.

Goling for someone's head, or knee, or ankle is so "Tanya Harding"

Posted by: Clarendon | December 4, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse


that should be: "going for someone's head, knee, ankle is so "Tanya Harding".

Posted by: Clarendon | December 4, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Ok, we all know Ted is Ted and he is oblivious in the marketing sense to this closed, outdoor skate and other such antics but what about the other owners? Leonsis is "only" the majority correct? Why aren't they demanding a more professional and winning approach? Of all people, they should understand we are at 20 pts a third of the season through. ??

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | December 4, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

@someone else...
Don't forget that Sluggo's not going to be there to help the team bundle up, which will attribute to them catching the flu.

Posted by: keef | December 4, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Whats killing the sport is over coaching with these defensive scemes playing not to lose instead of playing to win.

Posted by: Stan | December 4, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

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