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Dreger: NHL warns of stiff penaties for warmup incidents

Darren Dreger
4/13/2010 9:18:41 PM
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On a pre-playoff conference call on Monday, Colin Campbell, the NHL's director of hockey operations informed coaches and general managers of what the league views as potential postseason hot spots.

The threat of any confrontation in the pre-game warmup is of particular concern to the league.  To the point, Campbell warned the 16 teams, if an altercation mars the series, the offending team could lose a roster spot on the night the incident takes place, meaning the disciplined team would be forced to play the game with 17 skaters and two goalies.

In light of a recent incident, the Flyers-Devils series has the potential to turn nasty. Philadelphia forward Dan Carcillo was suspended two games for crosschecking Devils forward David Clarkson in the head late in a game on March 28th.  The two teams haven't played since.

In a regular season game in Toronto in 2007, Rangers forward Sean Avery enraged Darcy Tucker and a collection of Maple Leafs, sparking a pre-game skirmish.

Fines and, or suspensions will be handed out if something similar occurs this postseason.

Late game “message sending”, namely a fight or a seemingly deliberate intent to injury when the game is out of hand was also strongly discouraged by the league on Mondays call with threats of suspensions and fines.

A year ago, Philadelphia's Dan Carcillo was given a one game suspension for an apparent butt-end to Pittsburgh's Max Talbot's face as time expired in the Penguins 4-1 series opening victory.  Flyers coach John Stevens was also fined $10,000.

Finally, coaches and general managers were also told goaltender interference will be watched closely.

The Phoenix Coyotes are sure to remind round one officials of this on a game by game basis as Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom has mastered the art of screening, deflecting pucks, and generally agitating opposition goaltenders.

The NHL intends to watch Holmstrom and all “crease crashers” closely, and Colin Campbell suggests it's best to stay out of the blue paint to avoid a penalty.

The National Hockey League understands it's an intense and emotional time of year.  However, the tolerance for what the league considers unnecessary, as per usual in the playoffs, will be minimal.

Darren Dreger

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