NHL suspends the Capitals' Mike Green for three games for elbow to Michael Frolik's head

Mike Green on the hit on Michael Frolik that led to a three-game suspension:
Mike Green on the hit on Michael Frolik that led to a three-game suspension: "I didn't come across too aggressive." (Jamie Sabau/getty Images)
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Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 31, 2010

When the Washington Capitals attempt to match the longest winning streak in franchise history Sunday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Lightning, they'll have to do it without one of their best players.

Mike Green, the NHL's leading scorer among defensemen, was suspended Saturday for three games, without pay, by the league for his elbow to the head of Florida Panthers forward Michael Frolik in the first period of Friday night's 4-1 victory at Verizon Center.

Although Green does not have a history of controversial hits and had never been disciplined, NHL vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy delivered a strong message at a time when the league is exploring ways to cut down on the increasing number of blows to the heads.

Murphy made the ruling because Colin Campbell, the league's disciplinarian, recuses himself from decisions involving the Panthers because his son, Gregory, plays for the team.

The suspension elicited mixed reactions in the Capitals' dressing room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington.

Green, who suffered a bruise near his right knee later in the second period and might have been sidelined anyway, said he does not believe the elbow deserved a penalty.

"I've thrown that body check where you kind of come across. I didn't come across too aggressive," Green said. "I'll let [Coach Bruce Boudreau] talk about the rest."

Boudreau, who has an especially close relationship with Green dating to their time together in the minor leagues, did not agree with the league's ban of his star player. Green, who has more goals (12) and assists (40) than any other defenseman, was assessed a two-minute minor penalty for the elbow. Frolik, meantime, was shaken up by the blow but remained in the game.

"I don't know how to react anymore," Boudreau said. "Obviously I'm very upset about it. But what can you do? It's like fighting a ticket [when] you know you're not doing something wrong from the police. You can't argue with them. I better not say nothing. I'm just livid about the whole thing anyway."

Pressed for further comment, Boudreau added: "I'm using 'livid' right now, and I'm not going any further with it. Don't try to put something in my mouth where I end up saying something stupid. So let's talk about something else, okay."

When Boudreau was told that Green referred all questions to him, the coach chuckled and cracked, "Is he going to lend me the money?" The league can fine coaches for criticizing officials and disciplinary rulings.

Forward Brooks Laich, the team's NHL Players' Association representative, said the league needs to protect players from head shots.

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