Suspended Capitals Remain Unapologetic After Fight

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 25, 2006

Washington Capitals forwards Donald Brashear and Brian Sutherby had ample opportunity to say it wouldn't happen again.

They didn't.

Suspended without pay for their actions in Wednesday's fight-filled loss to the Atlanta Thrashers, Brashear and Sutherby were unapologetic in their first public comments about the punishments handed down by the NHL. Both sat out last night's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I haven't really thought about it yet," Brashear said. "And I don't really care. That's the rules they made. And if you don't play by the rules, that's what happens. It's an automatic penalty. There's nothing you can say to change it."

Asked if the punishment might give him pause when faced with a similar situation in the future, Brashear said: "That's my job. I do what I think is best for my team."

Brashear was suspended for three games; Sutherby, for one. Coach Glen Hanlon, meantime, was fined a record $30,000 in the aftermath of the Capitals' 4-2 loss to the Thrashers, in which the teams combined for 10 fighting major penalties, all in the final 62 seconds.

NHL rules require mandatory fines for coaches and automatic suspensions for players when instigator infractions are assessed in the final five minutes of a game.

The suspension is the first of Sutherby's NHL career. Brashear has been suspended four times for a total of 10 games.

"I wouldn't take it back for anything," Sutherby said. "I'm not happy about it. [But] the way our team responded and the things we did were warranted.

"It was a situation where we thought we were being taken advantage of a little bit. So there was no holding back. We were going to stick up for one another. The league wants to try to prohibit that, but there are times in hockey -- and in all sports -- where emotions are going to fly and take over."

The hostilities began after Atlanta defenseman Andy Sutton attempted a high check on Capitals rookie Mike Green. Earlier in the third period, another Thrasher, defenseman Vitaly Vishnevski, also tried unsuccessfully to go after Green's head.

Brashear apparently had seen enough and pounded Vishnevski, opening a cut on the defenseman's head. Four more fights ensued.

Hanlon was more diplomatic about his fine, which was the most levied against a coach for an on-ice incident, according to the league.

"It's something that the league is trying to avoid, so it sends a pretty strong message," Hanlon said. "Rules are rules, and they are written there."

Atlanta Coach Bob Hartley also was fined $10,000, and Thrashers captain Scott Mellanby was suspended for a game.

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