SUN Hockey Pool

Flames approve suspension

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

To members of the Calgary Flames, Steve Downie's 20-game suspension was fair.

Harsh, yes, but fair.

"He went for his head and that's not acceptable," said Flames left winger Alex Tanguay. "It's something people have been talking about for a long time, and they want to see those hits go away.

"We know it's a contact game and we know injuries are going to happen, but the ones you can prevent and the ones that are life threatening have to be stopped.

"We know Dean McAmmond's OK now, but he could have been in serious trouble."

Downie, who has yet to play a regular-season NHL game, was given the banishment for his vicious hit on former Flame McAmmond, who now plays for the Ottawa Senators.

Downie, a first-round draft choice of the Philadelphia Flyers, launched himself into McAmmond after the puck had been passed away. Because he jumped, Downie's shoulder hit McAmmond square in the face, causing a concussion.

"I knew it would be a stiff penalty, and that's a lot," said Calgary captain Jarome Iginla.

What remains to be seen is whether the suspension sends enough of a message and causes players to think twice.

"It's a quarter of a season. I think most guys will think about that seriously," Tanguay said. "There's still going to be concussions, that's not the issue, there's still going to be big hits. But the ones you can take away -- and he clearly jumped at Dean -- I think we need to prevent.

"Those types of injuries could change your life. We've got to make sure guys are held responsible for their actions out there, and that's one way to do it."

Added centre Craig Conroy: "It sets a tone and lets everybody know that's not going to be tolerated.

"The reaction we saw -- every team, whether it was a player, a coach, a fan -- was the same, it's not needed. It's not called for.

"He's trying to make a name for himself, I understand that, but a fight or a goal or a clean, big hit, will do it. But I think he was upset because he got hit funny into the boards and was trying to find somebody. Whoever it was, he didn't care, he was going to get them.

"Dean is a friend of mine, but if it was Dean or somebody I don't know, there's no need for that.

"There's nobody that can say, 'I never hit anybody kinda cheap' because you can get your elbows up or stick up, but you can't hit somebody like that."

Although the league has taken heat for being lenient on violent incidents, players were applauding Colin Campbell -- the NHL's disciplinarian -- for taking a stand.

"It's good the league did something," Conroy said.

"That's a lot and it's huge, but you have to get rid of hits like that."


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