“I’m not sure making it a long suspension sends a message,” Clarke said. “Look what happened two years ago when [Ottawa’s Martin] Havlat took a stick to Mark Recchi’s face. And now he goes and kicks a player [Boston’s Hal Gill] in the groin.
“Did Havlat learn anything from two years ago? I don’t think so. Sometimes, the old law of the jungle was the best way to solve these things. Have a player go out and kick the crap out of him.”
It’s only the third week of the season, but commissioner Gary Bettman is not shy about trumpeting the new, reinvigorated NHL.
“Clearly, our league and our game have undergone tremendous change. The 2005-06 season is still young, but everyone from casual fans to expert commentators like many of you here today concurs that NHL hockey has been reinvigorated,” proclaimed Bettman.
He [Gary Bettman] is getting ahead of himself. The commissioner should stick to the assumption that it will take a season or two to judge whether the game’s popularity really does come back enough to state that the NHL is a viable 30-team league.
Steve Downie, the Flyers’ displaced first-round draft pick from last summer whose future is somewhat in doubt, practiced with the club yesterday morning at the Air Canada Centre.
Downie, 18, was suspended for five games by the Ontario Hockey League this month after an ugly on-ice confrontation with Windsor Spitfires teammate Akim Aliu, in which Downie cross-checked Aliu in the mouth, causing the 16-year-old to lose several teeth.