Pronger suspended for hit on Wings' Holmstrom
Pronger, a former Norris Trophy winner and a finalist for the award this year, will miss Game 4 of the Ducks-Red Wings series Thursday night in Anaheim. He leads the Ducks with 12 points, including three goals, during the playoffs.
"We disagree completely with [NHL disciplinarian] Colin Campbell's decision here. But we respect the process," Ducks general manager Brian Burke said. "If you watch some of the other views, it looks like a dangerous, high hit. If you look at the end zone view, I think it shows best that Chris Pronger went to hit Tomas Holmstrom at a 45-degree angle from the boards.
"At no point is Chris delivering a hit toward the boards, a dangerous hit. He's coming in to finish a check at a 45-degree angle. Rob Niedermayer steps into the player [Holmstrom], pins him, you get a high finish."
Holmstrom had two goals and an assist in the Red Wings' 5-0 victory Tuesday night that gave them a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals. He had to leave the game midway through the second period to get 13 stitches to close two cuts on his forehead after Pronger and Niedermayer almost simultaneously slammed into him.
Niedermayer drew a major penalty for boarding and was ejected, but Pronger was not assessed a penalty on the play. The NHL reviewed the play Wednesday, Pronger spoke to the league on the phone and the decision was made to suspend him because of a blow to Holmstrom's head.
Holmstrom returned to begin the third period and had an assist on the Red Wings' final goal.
Burke said he appreciated the way the Red Wings and their coach, Mike Babcock, handled the situation.
"I think if Robby Niedermayer doesn't come into this play, I'm not here [talking about it], there's no hearing, there's no issue," Burke said.
Pronger didn't speak with reporters.
"He's sour about it," Burke said. "That's why he's not talking to you guys. The league doesn't like us swearing. I don't want Chris to talk to anyone today."
Holmstrom said after the game that he wasn't sure what happened on the play. Niedermayer was surprised at the call against him, but happy that Holmstrom wasn't seriously hurt and was able to come back in the third period.
Before the suspension was announced, Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle was asked about the possibility of not having Pronger for the next game.
"Obviously he's a big part of our hockey club. But, again, we've had stretches through the season where he wasn't on our blue line," Carlyle said. "We'll move other people in, make some adjustments with our personnel. Other people will have to share those minutes."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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