Flamesville hot under the collar

PABLO FERNANDEZ -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:15 PM ET


 Flamesville will be down one forward tonight following a decision by the NHL to suspend Ville Nieminen -- a decision called unjust and unfair by fans.

 Nieminen pushes his luck and lacks discipline but barring him from tonight's game in Tampa for checking Lightning scorer Vincent Lecavalier from behind, smells more of partisan officiating than fair ruling, said city fans yesterday.

 "It's unfair," said Dave May.

 "I believe neither the CBC nor the officials want to see Calgary win and I believe the officiating has been very one-sided against the Flames throughout the playoffs."

 Calgary supporter Russel McLellan said he's suspect of the call against Nieminen, adding there's been similar instances in the series that haven't been called.

 He feels the suspension will have a tangible effect on the Flames' attack.

 "He definitely deserved the penalty but not the game suspension," said McLellan.

 "But it is unfortunate because he is an important cog on that team."

 Bihasa Tomas compared the incident to when Tampa forward Cory Stillman elbowed Marcus Nilson in Game 1, sending the Calgary centre headfirst into the glass, leaving him bloodied and with a possible concussion.

 Nilson played the subsequent game and Stillman got away without disciplinary action.

 It was announced yesterday Lecavalier will play tonight.

 But despite what he considers bad calls, Nieminen shouldn't have hit the Lightning forward, said Tomas.

 "He didn't have to do that ... the way he did it," he said.

 "He's a good player but he needs more discipline -- he's still growing up."

 But neither the call nor the punishment surprised many fans.

 "He's been caught a few times for pushing the envelope but a game suspension seems a little high," said Flames fan Darcy Sorochan.

 But some people even went so far as to compare Nieminen's actions with the infamous Todd Bertuzzi sucker punch on Steve Moore in March that broke the Colorado Avalanche player's neck.

 Some said they'll miss Nieminen's talent in the ice but added the latest penalty is merited.

 "That man (Lecavalier) could've been out of action for a very long time," said Reg MacEwen.


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