Pronger suspended for hit to head on McAmmond

Updated: June 4, 2007, 8:48 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

OTTAWA -- Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger received a one-game suspension Sunday for his hit to the head of Ottawa forward Dean McAmmond in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Pronger, also given a one-game ban during the Western Conference finals, leveled McAmmond with a forearm Saturday night in the Ducks' 5-3 loss to the Senators. He will miss Game 4 of the series, that Anaheim leads 2-1, on Monday night. He is eligible to return for Game 5 back in Anaheim on Wednesday.

"It was just a reaction play. I just stepped up to make a hit," Pronger told reporters. "You've got to suffer the consequences of what came down. ... Hopefully, Dean's OK. There's no ill-will or malicious intent."

It is the sixth career NHL suspension for the 6-foot-6, 220-pound, hard-hitting All-Star and the second in these playoffs. During the previous round against Detroit, Pronger was banned for Game 4 after his hit to the head of Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom against the boards.

"The positives that Chris Pronger brings to the table far outweigh the negatives," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said moments after the announcement. "We live with the suspension and we move forward."

Pronger wasn't penalized on the ice for either of the hits that led to his suspensions.

"A variety of factors were considered in reaching this decision," NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell said. "Mr. Pronger used his forearm to deliver a forceful hit to the head of his opponent. Also, his actions caused injury to his opponent."

While Ducks general manager Brian Burke said he would accept the Pronger suspension, he was livid over a Chris Neil hit to Ducks forward Andy McDonald. Burke said there should have been a second hearing on Sunday.

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"We're not a dirty team, we're a physical team," Burke said. "There's a big difference."

McAmmond -- seven inches and 30 pounds smaller than Pronger -- was struck as he skated with the puck toward the Ducks net. He did a spin, fell backward, struck his head on the ice, and slid into the corner in the Anaheim zone at 2:01 of the third period.

"When I look at it, there are plusses and minuses to 6-foot-6," Campbell said. "Just because you have a height advantage doesn't mean you can deliver an elbow to the head.

"To us, an elbow to the head is a dangerous play regardless of the player's size."

McAmmond briefly lost consciousness, Senators coach Bryan Murray said, but there was no official announcement that the veteran of 14 NHL seasons sustained a concussion.

After receiving medical attention for several minutes, a dazed and woozy McAmmond was helped to the dressing room and didn't return. His status for Game 4 is questionable at best.

"McAmmond doesn't look promising," Senators coach Bryan Murray said Sunday before the suspension was levied.

McAmmond said physically, his condition not has changed since yesterday and that he has been feeling "headachy" since the hit.

"I'm going to do everything I can, or as little as a I can, to feel good tomorrow," McAmmond said. "I want to play but at this point in time, I'm not sure right now."

Campbell said he had "no doubt" McAmmond was knocked out on the ice.

"We think it was totally unintentional. The league thought different," Carlyle said. "Chris Pronger is a competitive player. Some people will say he's using his size as an excuse.

"The fact of the matter is his elbows are higher than most people's elbows. It's not like he raised his elbow to deliver a blow to the head."

The Senators camp, however, saw things a bit different.

"It's no doubt that he did this on purpose," said Senators general manager John Muckler. "Unfortunately, we have a player that is injured and has a concussion. And it's doubtful whether he'll be able to play on Monday. Hopefully he will. We just have to move forward."

Senators coach Bryan Murray added that Pronger's history of big hits possibly played a part in the decision.

"There was a very obvious elbow to the head," Murray said. "And we've adamantly gone after the fact that hits to the head cause damage and should be penalized severely. And in this case they [NHL] did it."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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