Richards levels Booth; suspension could be forthcoming

Florida Panthers forward David Booth was injured in the second period tonight against the Flyers after being hit by Mike Richards. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

   Flyers captain Mike Richards leveled Florida's David Booth with a shoulder-to-jaw hit late in the second period Saturday, sending the left winger to the hospital during Philadelphia's 5-1 win.

   Richards recieved a five-minute major penalty for interference and a game misconduct. The NHL will review the matter and could suspend Richards for a few games.

   Florida general manager Randy Sexton said there was no injury to Booth’s neck, and that the player would stay overnight for observation at Pennsylvania Hospital.
   Booth had feelings in his extremities, said Florida coach Peter DeBoer, adding that the player was unconscious on the ice.

     The NHL will review the hit and will concentrate on whether Richards left his feet to deliver the blow. If the league deems he did, he will undoubtedly be suspended.
    Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren called it a clean hit and said Richards should not be suspended. The GM claimed Richards only left his feet after the collision, not before it.
     Sexton disagreed, saying “there is no place” in hockey for the blow that was delivered.
     “The league wants to get rid of these shots to the head,” he told a Miami Herald reporter.
     “It’s unfortunate the kid got hurt there….but Mike Richards is not a dirty player. He doesn’t try to hurt people,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “He was backchecking through the middle, and he has as much integrity as anybody playing the game.”
     “Everything happened so quickly, it’s kind of hard to explain,” Richards said. “Obviously I was not trying to hurt him. I was trying to separate him from the puck, but he moved.”

   After the game,  Holmgren said he had not been notified by Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior vice president of hockey operations. He said if a suspension was forthcoming, he would have expected Campbell to have called during the game.

   However, a source said Campbell was busy with other NHL matters and would review the case Sunday and make a decision before the Flyers play San Jose Sunday night. Ironically, Campbell's son, Greg Campbell, plays for Florida.

    As for the game, there were a lot of positives for the Flyers. Danny Briere scored two goals and added an assist, while Arron Asham, Simon Gagne and James van Riemsdyk tallied goals.

    For Gagne, it was his first of the year. Van Riemsdyk's goal was more special _ it was the first of his NHL career.

   Gagne called the effort "one of our best games all year."