Downie backlash brews

Dean McAmmond speaks to the media after Senators practice on Thursday. (Sun Media/Blair Gable)

Dean McAmmond speaks to the media after Senators practice on Thursday. (Sun Media/Blair Gable)

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:51 AM ET

Opinions varied yesterday at Scotiabank Place on how Steve Downie should be punished for his nasty blow to the head of Dean McAmmond.

Senators enforcer Brian McGrattan is still promising payback for the young Flyer, first chance he gets. But John Paddock suggested Downie needs to get hit where it'll really hurt him -- right in the career.

"For the good of Steve Downie, I think he needs to be suspended for a long time," said the Senators coach. "What's really bothersome is that he had just been knocked down on a clean hit by Christoph Schubert, and he lost it. We've all done things in hockey that have been wrong ... but when something happens and you just get knocked down, you can't lose control.

"I think this is the type of player every team in the league wants, but he has to be in control. If you take the most important thing in the world away from him for a while, hopefully he'll remember it. If you're not going to be able to control yourself in normal hockey situations, it's not very good."

McGrattan agreed that Downie needs a long timeout.

"I think he should get 20 games," he said. "I hope the league deals with it the right way and sets an example with this guy. You can't take shots like that. It could have been career-ending. You could kill a guy with a hit like that.

"You can get away with it in junior, but you won't get away with it in this league, not for long."

McGrattan added that he's not worried the league will crack down on him for threatening retribution publicly.

"I don't beat around the bush," said McGrattan. "I'm not going to be a guy that whips out cliche after cliche. If I have something to say, I'll say it. At least I'm telling (Downie) I'm going to do it. I'm not going to blindside him."

While McAmmond is expecting to be able to get back in the lineup soon, GM Bryan Murray said he'd be sidelined "indefinitely," but that if the Senators had to replace him during the regular season for any length of time, it would likely be from within.

"When you make a commitment to get another player, there's a real cost involved," said Murray. "I'm looking, but there doesn't appear to be anything happening now. No one is shopping anybody and the free agents we're talking to are not ready to make a decision at this time."

Timing of the incident, meanwhile, couldn't be better. All NHL players were recently shown video from the league of fouls that will be deemed unacceptable. What Downie did -- from hitting a player who didn't have the puck, to leaving his feet, to delivering a blow to the head -- served as a prime example of that which will not be tolerated.

"It's just good to see Deano back in the room," said Jason Spezza. "The league has talked all about eliminating head shots ... this is its chance to let it be known they are not acceptable. There was an intent to injure, more than anything. It's one thing to try and knock him out of the game, and that should be taken seriously, but you're not only dealing with a guy's career, but his life. Head shots don't belong in the game."

MONEY TALKS: The agents representing Dany Heatley met yesterday with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and Murray, and both sides will now step back and absorb the conversations before reconvening. "We had lengthy and detailed discussions regarding Dany's free agency and we will take some time over the next week to consider each other's position," said agent J.P. Barry.

THIS AND THAT: Paddock said he won't make a decision on whether Ray Emery or Martin Gerber will start in Wednesday's season opener until Tuesday. Emery will play both tomorrow at Scotiabank Place against Montreal and in Sunday's final pre-season game in Washington ... D Wade Redden (back) and C Mike Fisher (groin) practised yesterday. Asked if they were ready to resume playing, Paddock said: "They looked all right to me."


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