Rangers' Orr Suspended 5 Games; Caps' Brashear 1

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 1, 2007

New York Rangers forward Colton Orr has been suspended five games by the NHL for cross-checking Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin across the face Saturday at Madison Square Garden, the league announced yesterday.

Capitals forward Donald Brashear, meantime, has been suspended one game for punching Aaron Ward in the face in a separate incident, and must sit out today's game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Verizon Center.

Orr received a minor penalty for charging after leveling Ovechkin on a dangerous open-ice hit with 4 minutes 20 seconds remaining in the Capitals' 4-1 loss, their fourth in a row. Ovechkin, who is tied for the league lead in goals with 25, went down hard but was not injured.

"That was for a player leaving the bench, not paying any attention to the puck and going head-hunting," Capitals General Manager George McPhee said of Orr's suspension. "He's probably fortunate it was only five games. Had he been a repeat offender, it would have been a lot more. That sends a message to him and to his coaching staff for putting him out there."

NHL Vice President Colin Campbell said in a statement, "The Rangers player's actions with his stick were reckless and dangerous. . . . The action is unacceptable."

Capitals defenseman Shaone Morrisonn responded to Orr's vicious attack on Ovechkin by accosting the rugged Ranger. Morrisonn received five minutes for fighting, a game misconduct and an instigator penalty, which could have led to a one-game suspension and $10,000 fine for Capitals Coach Glen Hanlon because the instigator penalty was assessed with less than five minutes left to play. The league did not punish Morrisonn and Hanlon, however.

As for Brashear, the suspension was his second of the season and third since March. The 34-year-old winger was barred for three games in November for his role in a brawl with the Atlanta Thrashers.

Brashear had just finished fighting Brendan Shanahan -- his second scrap of the night and fifth in five games -- and was headed for the penalty box when Ward skated over and had words for the enforcer, who responded by dropping the Rangers defenseman with a right jab to the jaw.

Brashear, one of the game's most feared fighters, received five minutes for fighting Shanahan and a match penalty (intent to injure) for punching Ward, who was upset because Brashear dusted off his hands following his decisive defeat of Shanahan. Ward received a penalty for unsportsmanlike behavior.

"That player shouldn't have been allowed to get that close to Brashear," McPhee said, referring to Ward. "I don't know that Brash even heard what [Ward] said. But the [other] players should have been cleared out."

The emotionally charged game began with several hard hits -- Rangers defenseman Darius Kasparaitis knocked down Ovechkin in open ice and Ovechkin responded moments later by decking Michael Nylander. Tempers flared in the second period when Orr and Brashear squared off.

With 12 minutes 21 seconds remaining, Shanahan picked a fight with Brashear because he felt Brashear was taking liberties with Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr.

"At the beginning, he gave me a chance to back out of it but I said no," Shanahan said after the game. "When I came back to the bench, I said to the guys that he didn't pick that one with me. I am the one who instigated that one."

Brashear refused to comment Saturday and was unavailable yesterday.

His suspension leaves the injury-plagued Capitals without both of their best fighters, the other being defenseman John Erskine, who is out indefinitely with a broken bone in his foot. Washington ranks second in fighting majors with 26, 11 behind the Anaheim Ducks and three more than the fourth-ranked Coyotes.

McPhee said he does not envision recalling any players from the club's American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey, Pa., and that most of the Capitals are expected to be sufficiently recovered from the stomach virus that ravaged the team over the weekend.

Capitals Notes: Orr will forfeit $13,235.29 of his salary while Brashear will lose $12,195.12. . . . Defensemen Timo Helbling and Jamie Hunt and goaltender Daren Machesney were assigned to Hershey.

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