Work in Sports
Niedermayer to sit for rest of season, 1 playoff game
Posted: Tuesday March 21, 2000 08:57 PM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- New Jersey defenseman Scott Niedermayer was suspended 10 games for hitting Florida's Peter Worrell over the helmet with his stick, a penalty that will carry into the Devils' first playoff game.
The suspension comes a month after the NHL handed down its harshest punishment ever, suspending Boston defenseman Marty McSorley for the final 23 games of the regular season for hitting Vancouver's Donald Brashear on the side of his head with a two-handed swing of his stick.
"Mr. Niedermayer is a first-time offender, a factor that was considered -- as were all the elements of the incident," said Colin Campbell, the NHL's executive vice president and director of hockey operations. "That consideration does not change the essential point here: A player has to be held accountable for striking an opponent on the head with his stick. We are determined to eliminate the irresponsible use of the stick from our game."
The suspension will cost Niedermayer $152,343.74, with the money going to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
Niedermayer, never previously suspended in eight NHL seasons, wasn't immediately available for comment.
Niedermayer and Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello met with Campbell in New York at noon, but it took the league almost six hours to release its ruling.
The suspension was not unexpected, given the incident with 1:45 left in the Devils' 5-2 victory over the Panthers on Sunday night.
Worrell and Niedermayer came together along the side boards. Worrell, a 6-foot-6 enforcer for the Panthers, appeared to elbow Niedermayer in the face.
Niedermayer immediately retaliated, taking his stick and bopping Worrell off the top of the helmet.
Although Worrell did not seem to be hurt, he skated only briefly before Tuesday night's game at New York against the Rangers, and was held out after complaining of a headache and nausea.
"I deserve something, no doubt about it," Niedermayer said Monday. "It was a stupid play and I deserve to be suspended. It was ugly. It wasn't the right thing to do. It's something I can't take back."
The Devils had hoped that Niedermayer's history would limit the suspension.
In 597 NHL games, the 26-year-old has only received 320 minutes in penalties. Prior to Sunday's match penalty for attempting to injure Worrell, the Cranbrook, British Columbia resident had been whistled for four major penalties, three misconducts and one game misconduct.
But the length of the suspension seems to indicate the NHL is cracking down on anyone who uses the stick to hit an opponent in the head in the wake of the McSorley incident last month.
Brashear was sidelined for the season with a serious concussion.
Florida assistant Bill Smith told the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel that Niedermayer's chop over Worrell's head "was as bad as McSorley's."
While trying not to make excuses, Niedermayer and his teammates said Worrell played a dirty game. He elbowed Niedermayer and received a penalty early in the contest and later was sent off for charging defenseman Colin White.
The Devils also felt Worrell threw other elbows that did not receive penalties.