Los Angeles Kings Coach Don Perry was suspended for 15 days and the club fined $5,000 for ordering Paul Mulvey to leave the bench during an altercation in a Jan. 24 game against Vancouver, the National Hockey League announced today.
Under NHL President John Ziegler's order, Perry cannot attend team practices or perform any other duty for the Kings or their minor league affiliates during the suspension.
"It is the responsibility of management and coaches to see that their teams obey the rules," Ziegler said in a statement. "We penalize with a degree of understanding that certain actions result from the intensity and frustration of the game.
"We cannot and will not, however, tolerate premeditated attempts to ignore or act against the policy of the league."
The suspension, which covers six games, begins immediately because Perry waived his right to appeal. He was unavailable for comment, but the Kings issued a statement from owner Jerry Buss, who said that although the team accepted the punishment, "it would appear to be a very severe penalty."
George Maguire, the club's general manager, said: "This suspension is unduly severe and will deprive us of our new coach for about one-quarter of the remaining games on our schedule."
The Kings are 14-28-11 overall and 1-4-6 since Perry took over Jan. 12, succeeding Parker MacDonald.
The incident began with a fight between Ron Delorme of Vancouver and a Los Angeles player. Delorme was sent to the penalty box, but a minute later he jumped out of the box and started another fight. At that point Perry ordered Mulvey to leave the bench.
Perry said he wanted Mulvey to help his teammates, who were involved in the altercation. Mulvey said Perry ordered him to join a fight.
Mulvey refused to leave the bench and was later placed on waivers, which he cleared, and was demoted to the Kings' American Hockey League farm team in New Haven, Conn.
NHL rules call for an automatic three-game suspension and general misconduct penalty, which carries a fine, for any player leaving the bench to join a fight on the ice. But Perry criticized Mulvey following last Sunday's game, saying he didn't want a player who wouldn't obey his orders on the team.
In making his decision, Ziegler said, "I believe the actions of the coach did not and do not reflect the policy or attitude of the Los Angeles Kings hockey club. Nevertheless, the club must be held accountable for the conduct of its employes."
The last time a coach was found to have instigated a brawl was in February 1980, when Pat Quinn of the Philadelphia Flyers was suspended for three games and fined $5,000.
The Perry ruling is one of the most decisive stands the league has taken on the issue of violence and comes at a time when authorities in Winnipeg, Manitoba, are examining the possibility of filing charges against Jimmy Mann, who was suspended for 10 games for breaking the jaw of Pittsburgh's Paul Gardner.
The attorney general in Manitoba said he would probably decide by late this week whether criminal charges would be placed against Mann. Crown prosecutors in Manitoba are still reviewing the videotapes of the game.