SUN Hockey Pool

Flame hot under collar

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

Byron Ritchie didn't see it coming but, after watching the replays, says the hit was a cheapshot.

"I've seen it a couple of times. I felt it was a pretty dirty hit," said the Calgary Flames forward of the odd-looking submarine dive from the bench Monday by Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Jaroslav Spacek that left Ritchie with a sprained MCL in his right knee.

"I don't think he went for the puck at all. He went right for the knees, which kind of leaves a guy defenceless.

"I think any time somebody goes for another player's knees is a lack of respect, same as hitting from behind and stuff like that. He can't defend himself at all and it leads to injuries, which it did in this case."

Spacek was given a two-game suspension -- with both games being served against Calgary's Northwest Division rivals Edmonton and Vancouver -- but Flames GM/Darryl Sutter said it doesn't make up for his team's loss.

"There's no satisfaction or justice in it when your player's injured and he's out that long," said Sutter. "From our standpoint, there is no justice."

Ritchie didn't seem thrilled about the sentence, either.

"They dealt with it in their way," he said. "They gave him a two-game suspension and that was their decision. That's what they felt it was worth."

Ritchie will be out four-to-eight weeks.

Marcus Nilson, who had his head rattled by a hard hit in Monday's game, is questionable for tomorrow's game against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. Sportsnet). Flames defenceman Roman Hamrlik, meanwhile, skated with the team for the first time yesterday after sustaining a similar injury Dec. 7 in New Jersey. He could return to the lineup as early as tomorrow but he'll likely stay on the injured list another week.

Rhett Warrener, Tony Amonte and Stephane Yelle all practiced yesterday.


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