Golisano questions NHL hits policy in letter to Bettman

Updated: February 24, 2007, 8:53 PM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres owner Tom Golisano urged the NHL to review its policy on violent hits to the head after the league chose not to punish Ottawa's Chris Neil for blindsiding and knocking out Buffalo co-captain Chris Drury.

In a letter addressed to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Saturday, Golisano wrote, "I am deeply concerned with the standard the NHL has adopted that seems to allow violent hits to the head."

In asking Bettman to review the league's policy immediately, Golisano added: "What we cannot allow are hits that are designed to injure and maim."

Golisano accused Neil of attempting to injure Drury, who is out indefinitely after experiencing concussion-type symptoms, questioned the NHL for ruling the check as legal and asked the league to review its policy.

Neil has maintained that the hit was clean and Drury should have had his head up.

The letter was released by the Sabres to the media, and comes after Drury was bloodied and knocked woozy after being hit from behind during Buffalo's 6-5 shootout win over the Senators on Thursday night. Neil was not penalized, and the check sparked a wild melee that lead to three players being ejected.

"We do not think this should be the standard, and we do not think it helps our game or the league," Golisano wrote, noting the NHL had informed the Sabres that the check was legal. "There is nothing manly about hitting a player that you can't see. ... There is nothing good to come of a policy that allows exciting, skilled players to be targets for what I believe to be a predatory play."

In an e-mail, NHL spokesman Frank Brown said: "The commissioner has not received the letter and he cannot comment on a letter that the media has seen before it has been received by the league."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press