Philadelphia Flyers forward Steve Downie, who ran afoul of the NHL in late September, escaped punishment this time, getting a warning Monday but no suspension for sucker-punching Toronto's Jason Blake.
During a conference call, Colin Campbell, NHL executive vice president and league disciplinarian, issued a warning to Downie, whose latest transgression took place Saturday in the third period of the Flyers' 3-2 victory in Toronto. Blake, who was being held back by an official at the time, never saw Downie's punch, which landed on his left eye. Downie, a rookie, was assessed a double-minor penalty.
"We had a conversation with Mr. Campbell, and that's it," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren told the Philadelphia-area media. "The rest will be between the league, the Flyers and Steve. It was a good talk.
"It's Steve's [fourth] NHL game. He's walking a fine line there, which is basically what he was told. My conversation with Steve was a little harsher than Colin Campbell's."
Downie, who acknowledged he has been put on notice again, said,
"I took a penalty that hurt the team, and I can't do that. There's a fine line you've got to follow, and I crossed it again. I've got to learn."
Downie was suspended 20 games for a dangerous hit on Ottawa center Dean McAmmond during a September preseason game. McAmmond suffered a concussion.
"He's part of a team now and needs to think in those terms and not selfishly," Holmgren said. "I'm upset. It was Jason Blake. Jason is not a fighter. You get a player in that position, and I don't think Jason had his gloves off. I'm not happy about that, either. The fact that Steve put his team down is a different issue. That's a selfish thing. He'll get better."
"Hits like that happen a lot," Holmgren said. "The puck was rolling and Braydon had to turn to handle it, and it probably should have been a penalty, but I'm not sure what [Campbell] thinks."
The Canadian media had made the sucker punch on Blake an issue, but Downie said, "It's Toronto; they blew it up a bit."