Should Mike Richards be <br>suspended for Game 7?</br>

Buffalo — The Globe and Mail

(DOUG BENZ)

Somewhat lost in the Philadelphia Flyers' big win on Sunday in Buffalo was the fact that captain Mike Richards could be facing a suspension for Tuesday's Game 7.

Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was pushing hard for just that after Richards's hit from behind on Tim Connolly, who crumpled to the ice and didn't return to the game.

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Connolly joins Sabres forwards Jason Pominville, Jochen Hecht and Derek Roy on the sidelines, although Ruff believes Roy will be ready to play Tuesday.

"Tim's not doing very good," Ruff said solemnly after the game. "I think it's definitely something the league has to take a look at. That's a lack of respect for another player on the ice. It's from behind, it's head first into the [boards] That's a tough play. We lost a good player.

"I can just tell you he won't be playing. He's going to be out."

Here's a look at the hit:



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Connolly's had several concussions in the past, and from the tone Ruff had after the game, I suspect there could be a long recovery involved here. Richards received only a two minute minor for boarding (hitting from behind majors are almost never called anymore, for some reason), likely in part because of how tight the game was at that juncture.

Sabres netminder Ryan Miller was especially upset given Richards had been complaining the Sabres were getting away with "murder" earlier in the series.

"I'd like to add one thing," Miller said at the end of his scrum with reporters. "If Mike Richards thinks we're getting away with murder, I don't know what he just got away with. Mass murder? Are we stepping up a notch? Unbelievable.

"We lost a player for the rest of the game. That's the kind of hit the league has been talking about is dangerous. They better seriously consider looking at that one. It's unbelievable."

Ruff added: "We lose a good player. I think if the league looks at it the way I saw it on video, they'll lose a good player, too. That'll be even, too."

Connolly hadn't much impact on the series offensively with only two assists, but the Sabres played him more than any other forward in the first five games: 21 minutes a night. He's Buffalo's top penalty killing forward and also plays on the first power play unit.

Roy, meanwhile, has been out for four months and won't be able to play nearly that much in a do or die game.

It's going to fall to Buffalo's youngster like Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe to shoulder even more of the load, leaving Buffalo at an even bigger disadvantage.

So the question is: Would you suspend Richards, one of the Flyers' top players, for Game 7? And, if this was a lesser player, say a Raffi Torres type, wouldn't they be tossed for a game?

The right thing to do would be to always penalize hits like this in order to wipe them out entirely. If the NHL steps up with a suspension, there's sure to be outrage in Philadelphia.

Don't hold your breath on this one.

UPDATE The early word Monday morning is there will be no suspension. I should have more on this later in the day.

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