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NHL hands down 6-game suspension to Brashear

by Dan Rosen

"Brashear delivered a shoulder hit to an unsuspecting player. It is also my opinion that the hit was delivered late and targeted the head of his opponent, causing significant injury."
-- Colin Campbell

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington forward Donald Brashear has been suspended for six games by the National Hockey League and will miss Tuesday's Game 7 of the Capitals' Eastern Conference Quarterfinal round series against the New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS) for his action both prior to, and during, Sunday's Game 6.

Brashear was suspended one game for initiating contact with Rangers forward Colton Orr during the pre-game warm-up. Brashear was suspended for five additional games for a blind-side hit on New York forward Blair Betts at 9:54 of the first period.

"Brashear delivered a shoulder hit to an unsuspecting player," NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said. "It is also my opinion that the hit was delivered late and targeted the head of his opponent, causing significant injury." 

Brashear's suspension will be served beginning tomorrow night when the Capitals meet the Rangers in Game 7 of the series. The suspension will extend through the Capitals' next five 2009 playoff games, the 2009-10 regular season, or both, as circumstances warrant.

Brashear has played in the last four games against the Rangers. His suspension could pave the way for Capitals' captain Chris Clark to join the lineup for the first time since Jan. 27 at Boston. He has been out since after having wrist surgery. Clark announced prior to Game 1 that team doctors cleared him to play, but coach Bruce Boudreau has yet to insert him into the lineup. Clark said Monday that Boudreau told him to "be ready," but that's what he has been telling him before every game of the series.

"It means the same thing it's always meant," Clark said. "If somebody got hurt, I would be in. I have been waiting for this chance."

Boudreau was non-committal about who would play for Brashear, either Clark or Michael Nylander, who has been a healthy scratch for the last four games.

"We've got a lot of players," Boudreau said. "Donald is a big part of our team, but so is Michael Nylander and Chris Clark and they haven't had a chance to play. We've said all year that if someone is not playing someone has to come in and do just as good a job."

Since it is Brashear leaving the lineup, it would seem appropriate for Boudreau turn to Clark, who plays with a little more of a physical edge to his game than the slick passing Nylander.

"Clarkie is a feisty guy so maybe he'll get in there and fill (Brashear's) spot," Capitals defenseman Mike Green said.

To a man, the Caps do think losing Brashear does hurt their team even though he is averaging only 3:25 of ice time and less than seven shifts per game.

"He's a big part of our team, for sure," Alex Ovechkin said of Brashear. "He's a big guy in our locker room."

"He obviously has a presence on the ice and makes guys look behind them whenever he's out there," Green said. "Not only that, but in the dressing room he's great helping us out. We're all going to have to step up our game and be a little more physical because we're missing that key component with him out."

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