PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Flyers rookie Steve Downie was suspended 20 games by the NHL on Friday for leaving his feet to deliver a deliberate and dangerous hit to the head Ottawa's Dean McAmmond.
McAmmond was taken off the ice on a stretcher in the second period of Tuesday's preseason game and is out indefinitely with a concussion.
Downie received a match penalty and was automatically suspended until Friday's hearing in Toronto.
"The hit was deliberate, dangerous and has no place in our league," NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell said. "He crossed a line in a wholeheartedly way."
Campbell said Downie would be available to play in the Flyers' minor league affiliate in the AHL.
Downie has not played an NHL game with the Flyers and was expected to start the season in the minor leagues. The 20-year-old said after the game he thought it was a clean hit.
"My game is hitting and finishing checks," Downie said after the game. "I'm just trying to earn a spot on a roster. It's part of my game and I apologize for him getting hurt. I thought I got him clean."
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said on Thursday that Downie was remorseful.
"He's a good young man. He's a good hockey player," Holmgren said. "Part of what makes him a good player is his aggressiveness and his willingness to fight for things.
"The incident in Ottawa the other day, he was doing what he normally would do there. He was going to finish his check and, well, it really was an ugly incident because of the nature of the injury."
McAmmond had lost possession of the puck and was skating behind the Philadelphia net when he was sent to the ice by Downie's flying body check at 2:39 of the second period. Downie's feet left the ice before the violent collision.
Senators team doctor Don Chow immediately went to McAmmond's aid even as players from both teams squared off in the aftermath with Ottawa enforcer Brian McGrattan going after Downie.
McAmmond did not move his hands or his feet while he was strapped onto the stretcher and taken off the ice.
Downie called McAmmond and apologized, but Ottawa coach John Paddock called for Downie to be suspended "for a long time."