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NHL suspends Boulerice 25 games

by Evan Grossman /
Jesse Boulerice will not be eligible to return to the Flyers' lineup until December 13.
Flyers enforcer Jesse Boulerice took a shot at Vancouver’s Ryan Kessler earlier in the week and Friday, the long arm of the NHL law returned fire.

Boulerice was suspended 25 games for his crosscheck to Kesler’s face Oct. 10, a stick foul that resulted in an immediate match penalty as per Rule 21 for the deliberate injury of an opponent.

“I reacted in a bad way -- the wrong way,” Boulerice said after the incident. “I wanted to give him a hit back.”

Friday, the NHL hit back with one of the longest suspensions in League history.

The 25-game suspension ties the longest sentence ever handed down by the League with the 25-game ban Chris Simon received for his two-hander to Ryan Hollweg’s face last season. Simon is still serving his sentence, while Boulerice will not be eligible to return until Dec. 13 at Montreal.

Boulerice received 25 games for his actions, eclipsing the 23-game ban handed down to Marty McSorley when he two-handed Donald Brashear during the 1999-2000 season. The Boulerice suspension is also more than Dale Hunter got for his cheap shot on Pierre Turgeon during the 1993 playoffs and the 20 games Todd Bertuzzi had to sit out following the Steve Moore incident.

“This was more than a careless and reckless play – it was senseless,” NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said. “This was a deliberate crosscheck to the face where Jesse Boulerice broke the shaft of his stick on Ryan Kesler’s jaw. Boulerice went out of his way to deliver the crosscheck and we will not tolerate this kind of conduct.”

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Earlier this month, another Flyer, prospect Steve Downie, was slapped with a 20-game suspension for his high, late and vicious hit that knocked Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond out in the preseason at a time when the NHL is strictly enforcing dangerous play, particularly head shots.

This was not the first time Boulerice has been on the wrong side of hockey law. While in junior, he was suspended for one year following his baseball-bat swinging incident against Andrew Long, an incident that also brought assault charges.

Campbell said that prior records do not come into play when determining a suspension of this magnitude.

“This wasn’t a bodycheck that’s legal that kind of went bad,” Campbell said. “This was a stick that was used, that was broken, as it was used to another player’s face. It was similar to the Simon incident. You don’t use your stick for swinging at players, crosschecking players. You use your stick for shooting and passing.

“This was a determined effort of a player who went in the opposite direction the play was going,” Campbell said, “he sought out a player and without the player seeing him, he struck that player in the facial area with a crosscheck, breaking his stick.”

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