Run-in with ref not first for Nash

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Rick Nash's physical interaction with officials at the world hockey championship isn't the first time the former London Knight centre has had a run-in with the striped shirts.

Nash was a rookie when he was suspended for five games by the OHL in March 2001 after making contact with referee Scott Hoberg in the third period of a game in Erie, Pa.

The suspension was for the final four games of the regular season, which cost him a shot at the rookie scoring title, and the first game of the playoffs.

Nash at the time called his suspension "pathetic" and said he was disappointed with commissioner David Branch.

"How can they do that? It was unintentional. I think it's pathetic. They ruined the rest of my season," said the 16-year-old Nash, the Knights' top scorer.

Nash was ejected for physical abuse of an official with no intent to injure -- which calls for a 10-game suspension that may be reduced -- after he crossed paths with Hoberg, who was skating in an opposite direction.

Hoberg told the league there would have been no contact had Nash not stuck out his elbow, tagging the referee on the arm.

Hoberg stayed on his feet.

"I think (Hoberg) was out to get me after the misconduct (assessed Nash at end of the second period for verbal abuse)," Nash said.

That was the seventh time that season the OHL levied supplementary discipline against the Knights, including earlier suspensions to coach Lindsay Hofford and co-owner/GM Mark Hunter.

Branch said at the time the league only had the word of Hoberg and Nash, since the game video didn't show the incident.

"There was a physical involvement between the two, not of a severe nature," Branch said in announcing the suspension.

"This was not worthy of 10 games, but it was a clear violation of what is deemed to be appropriate.

"I understand his disappointment . . . he arguably is the best (rookie) in our league, but hopefully he can put this behind him and we don't have to address this type of situation again."


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