Nolan to appeal suspension
Updated: Saturday February 10, 2001 11:57 PM
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- The San Jose Sharks on Saturday night appealed captain Owen Nolan's 11-game suspension, with Sharks GM Dean Lombardi implying an NHL bias against himself and his team prompted the heavy punishment.
Nolan was suspended Friday for his hit on Dallas forward Grant Marshall on Feb. 1. Appeals are permissible under the NHL's bylaws, but are rarely successful.
"I just think it's unfair," Nolan said. "I always knew I was going to get a suspension, but 11 games I think was too much."
Lombardi said the appeal was warranted because the Sharks don't feel the punishment fits Nolan's crime. Nolan, who gave Marshall a concussion, missed his third straight game Saturday when the Sharks faced the Chicago Blackhawks.
"It's no secret that [NHL commissioner] Gary Bettman has an intense dislike for Dean Lombardi, professionally and personally," Lombardi said. "That's no secret around the league. Our philosophies on sport and player relations probably have as much a chance of finding a common ground as the Arabs and the Israelis.
"This isn't news to people in hockey. Sometime, you need a good donnybrook to air things out."
If the appeal is unsuccessful, the Sharks will be without Nolan and injured center Vincent Damphousse -- two-thirds of their top line earlier this season -- for three critical late-season weeks. Damphousse and Nolan are the Sharks' top two scorers.
One day after citing several comparable instances in which a player received a much lighter suspension, Lombardi gave several more examples. He noted that Matt Johnson's hit on Jeff Beukeboom, which ended Beukeboom's career three years ago, earned Johnson just a 12-game suspension.
"We're not condoning what [Nolan] did, but the punishment is not consistent with the act," Lombardi said. "There is a discrepancy it's hard to make sense of."
Lombardi also noted that Marshall already has returned to action. He scored Dallas' only goal in the Stars' loss to Minnesota on Friday night.
Nolan was given a 10-minute match penalty for elbowing Marshall in the neck with five seconds remaining in the first period of the Stars' 4-2 victory at San Jose. Marshall, who struck his head on the ice when he went down, was removed on a stretcher and hospitalized overnight.
Marshall received a major penalty earlier in the period for a blindside boarding hit on Nolan, who later said he hit Marshall out of anger and called the play "stupid."
Nolan missed the entire preseason and played just three games in the season's first six weeks because of a contract holdout and extra conditioning time. Still, he has 18 goals and 40 points in 38 games. He will lose $335,294 of his $4.75 million salary during the suspension.
The NHL clashed with Lombardi and the Sharks earlier this season in another incident involving Nolan.
The league filed a grievance against the five-year, $30 million contract signed by Nolan this past October. The grievance, which has yet to be heard before an arbitrator, was caused by a clause in the contract which allows extends the deal by a year in the event of an NHL work stoppage in 2004.