Sutton suspended four games for hit on Leafs' Tucker

Updated: October 15, 2005, 5:47 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Atlanta Thrashers defenseman Andy Sutton was suspended for four games by the NHL on Saturday after his hit on Darcy Tucker left the Toronto forward with a bloodied forehead.

Andy Sutton

Sutton was ejected Friday night with 10:03 left in Atlanta's 9-1 loss to Toronto. He was scheduled to miss Saturday's game against the New York Rangers as well as contests against Tampa Bay, New Jersey and the New York Islanders.

He is eligible to return Oct. 27 at Pittsburgh.

Sutton drove Tucker hard into the glass, and Tucker's head appeared to strike a partition -- opening a gash that required several stitches.

"In no way, shape or form did I mean to injure Darcy," Sutton told The Associated Press. "I finished my check the way I have hundreds of times before. He just happened to hit his head in a bad way."

Darcy Tucker

Sutton was given a match penalty and ejected for attempting to injure.

After the Thrashers held a meeting and a 30-minute skate Saturday morning, Sutton and general manager Don Waddell stepped into an office for a conference call disciplinary hearing with NHL officials.

"I just told them exactly what's been going on with me," the disappointed Sutton said in hushed tones. "I haven't been playing a lot of minutes, and irregardless of the score I try to go out and play the game a certain way and try to bring some intensity."

Sutton is scoreless in Atlanta's first five games this season. He is averaging just under 13 minutes per game and is a minus-3.

With Friday's game already long decided, Eric Boulton caught Toronto's Eric Lindros with a hard hit up high and drove him into the boards. It drew an elbowing call and set off a brawl once Maple Leafs enforcer Tie Domi jumped in and squared off with Boulton.

"Domi came in and started the entire thing," Thrashers coach Bob Hartley said Saturday. "Boulton's hit on Lindros was one of those hits that you see about 30 times a game. It was far from being a cheap shot, he was just eliminating his man."

Atlanta's Garnet Exelby and Boulton were ejected, while Domi received an instigator penalty and a misconduct. That just set the stage for Sutton's check on Tucker 23 seconds after the puck was dropped again.

"Emotions were definitely heightened because of what was going on," Sutton said. "The linesman was so fired up he tried to throw me to the ice. Obviously the referees were jacked up."

The 30-year-old Sutton will lose $38,775.52 in salary because of the suspension.

"Andy Sutton is not a dirty player by any means. I think he's a very honest player and he just tried to finish his check," Hartley said. "It's unfortunate and you never like to see players get injured. But it was one of those things. I think since it occurred just a couple of seconds after all those fights it looks way worse than what it is."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press