NHL Penalizes Ducks, Flames
Mighty Duck forward Kevin Sawyer, Calgary Coach Greg Gilbert and the Flames’ Craig Berube and Scott Nichol were suspended without pay by the league Monday for their actions in Saturday’s brawl-filled game between the teams.
Sawyer was suspended five games, which will cost him $10,954 in salary, for deliberately running into Calgary goaltender Mike Vernon in retaliation for Berube’s running into Duck goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
The Flames were fined $25,000, and Gilbert was suspended for two games for his role in instigating the numerous fights over the final 1:24 with his team trailing, 4-0.
Berube was suspended three games, which will cost him $6,969, for charging Giguere and then coming out of the penalty box and attacking the Ducks’ Jeff Friesen.
Nichol was suspended two games, which will cost him $3,866, for a gross misconduct penalty he picked up with 32 seconds remaining.
Anaheim’s Ruslan Salei and Giguere also were fined $1,000 each for their roles in fights, and Coach Bryan Murray received a conditional $5,000 fine that he will have to pay if the Ducks are involved in any more questionable brawls this season.
Sawyer took responsibility for his hit on Vernon but said the entire incident may have been avoided if Calgary’s Bob Boughner, who had crushed the Ducks’ Paul Kariya with a clean check earlier in the game, had accepted his challenge to fight to settle Berube’s check on Giguere.
“If you recall, the shift before [Vernon’s hit], I challenged Bob Boughner to a one-on-one altercation, and he didn’t want to have any of that,” Sawyer said. “I feel strongly that if that did happen, things might have been a little different. But it didn’t happen that way.”
Colin Campbell, NHL executive vice president and director of hockey operations, is in charge of league discipline, and he especially took exception to the Flames’ behavior.
“The deterioration of this game in the final minutes is clearly unacceptable and, in particular, Coach Gilbert and the Calgary club must be held accountable,” Campbell said.
“The message should be clear to all teams that this type of conduct will not be tolerated.”
However, the league’s disciplinary actions are not expected to end the bad blood between the teams, who will play each other twice more this season.
“I don’t believe in running into the goaltender and Kevin did, so as a result, I can’t object to his being suspended,” Murray said about Sawyer’s punishment.
“But it’s an insult to me, to have Greg Gilbert being quoted saying that he thinks that I sent Sawyer out to do that. And people actually reported that ... [Gilbert]’s a jerk. I always thought Gilbert was a decent guy but to do what he did is an insult to the game. I think it’s just an arrogance.”
What bothers the Ducks most is that they believe the Flames did whatever they could to prolong the fracas.
Not only did Gilbert send out a lineup that included Boughner, Steve Begin and Denis Gauthier, a trio that immediately initiated altercations at the drop of the puck after Sawyer’s hit on Vernon, but Murray believes Gilbert also ordered veteran Dave Lowry to stop play to get Berube out of the penalty box for him to get in more punches.
“He gets Dave Lowry to shoot the puck into the crowd for Berube to come out and two-hand slash Jeff Friesen,” Murray said. “To me, that’s despicable.”
Friesen, who woke up with a sore neck on Sunday, has already made Jan. 19 a special date because that’s when the Ducks play Calgary at the Saddledome.
“[Lowry] was a great teammate [at San Jose], but what he did was gutless,” Friesen said. “If he wanted to fight one of us, he should have fought us himself and not have Berube do it.
“To have Berube do it was a gutless thing. I get jumped and all because the guy was scared to [fight for himself]. I don’t think it was right. They were the ones who started it just because they weren’t playing well.
“We will have to toughen our lineup for the next time we play them. If you think this thing is done, it’s not.”
Murray, who has coached more than 1,000 NHL games in his career, has been a part of a heated rivalry before, and he doesn’t think there will be the same type of fisticuffs the next time the teams play.
“When I was back coaching [Washington] we used to have lots of fights with Philadelphia, [and] we had a lot of tough situations with them,” Murray said.
“Usually, it goes away. [The Flames] are going to be in a position where they are going to have to win some games.... We’ll have to see how it goes.”
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Cost of Brawling
The NHL’s disciplinary actions in the wake of brawl-filled Dec. 8 game between the Mighty Ducks and Calgary Flames:DUCKS
Forward Kevin Sawyer: Suspended without pay for five games.
Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere: Fined $1,000
Defenseman Ruslan Salei: Fined $1,000
Forward Craig Berube: Suspended without pay for three games.
Forward Scott Nichol: Suspended without pay for two games.
Coach Greg Gilbert: Suspended two games as a result of the conduct of the Calgary team.
Calgary club: Fined $25,000.
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