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NHL suspends Flyers prospect Downie 20 games for hit on Ottawa center McAmmond

NHL.com @NHL

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. His suspension matched the fourth-longest in league history.

"The hit was deliberate, dangerous and has no place in our league," NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell said. "He crossed a line in a wholehearted 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. "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. Unfortunately he hit the boards after."

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Downie, a Flyers first-round pick in 2005, accepted his punishment.

"My reaction is that it seems like a lot of games, but Colin Campbell is in a very difficult position and we respect his position and his judgment in this case," Holmgren said. "We will live with it. I was with Steve during the hearing and was with him after the verdict. He is very upset and understandably so. He understands the ramifications and he is prepared to live with this decision."

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."

"Hitting is a part of our game and I hope always will be a part of our game, Campbell said. "But I think this is a steep and severe suspension."

Islanders forward Chris Simon was suspended for a league-record 25 games in March for his two-handed stick attack to the face of Ryan Hollweg of the New York Rangers.

Marty McSorley and Gordie Dwyer each received 23-game suspensions; Dale Hunter got 21; and Todd Bertuzzi, Tom Lysiak and Brad May are the other players in league history to get 20 games.

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