The National Hockey League office will review Sunday's penalty-filled game between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers and the events around it to decide if disciplinary action is necessary.
Brian O'Neill, NHL executive vice president, did not return phone calls but a member of his staff said the game was under investigation, though she would give no details on when a decision would be made. A Capitals spokesman said the team was asked to submit a report and provide a videotape of the game to the league.
By the time the Flyers and Capitals were done, the Capitals had a 5-2 victory (their third straight) and the teams had combined for a Capital Centre record 294 minutes in penalties.
Upset at Dale Hunter's check on Gord Murphy, Flyers Coach Paul Holmgren slammed a stick against the plexiglass separating the benches.
Capitals General Manager David Poile said the Capitals were not going to protest Holmgren's action.
"Sometimes, as coach, you get caught up and take things personally," Capitals Coach Terry Murray said. "I don't hold it against him."
Backup goalie Mike Liut was the Capital closest to the glass.
"I was thinking that glass couldn't have been too thick for me," he joked after yesterday's optional practice at Mount Vernon Recreation Center. "But I've played against Holmgren. I knew he wasn't really mad. If he was really mad, that wouldn't have been enough to stop him. He would have chopped his way through."
Liut paused and added: "I don't know if that was the best that hockey has to offer. But the league has done a better job of curtailing that -- 15 years ago, that game would have taken five hours."
A Flyers spokesman said Holmgren hadn't decided whether to ask the league to study Hunter's hit or anything else.
The league might also review what happened in the press box. There was nearly a 20-minute delay in the third period while on-ice officials sorted out another brawl. In that stretch some fans taunted injured Flyers right wing Rick Tocchet, who was sitting in the press box with a couple of teammates and assistant coach Ken Hitchcock. It is normal procedure for an injured player to be there. Tocchet and teammate Jeff Chychrun, led by Hitchcock, started to move out of the box. Security officials headed them off and persuaded them to stay in the box, which is in a corner of the arena and accessible to spectators. There was no contact between players and fans, though Tocchet said there wasn't enough security. Poile, who was two rows above in the press box, felt otherwise.
"I thought it was fine," Poile said. "Capital Centre security realized the situation and had several people there. Hitchcock and Tocchet never got out."
Despite three straight wins, the Capitals are one point out of fourth place in the Patrick Division and one game under .500 (27-28-3). They haven't been at .500 since Dec. 20, but will try to reach that level Friday night in Calgary. Saturday night they will play in Vancouver, then head for Los Angeles.
"It's that standard of play that we've talked about," Murray said of the last three games. He doesn't expect his team to be as wired as it was for the arch-rival Flyers, but he wants the range of emotion cut down. Obviously, he would like the valleys to be eliminated. "If we do that the rest of the season, we'll give ourselves a shot at making the playoffs."
Capitals Notes: The team will visit Children's Hospital this afternoon as part of the "Have a Heart" campaign. Peter Bondra, NHL rookie of the month for November, will present a check for $500. Upper Deck, which sponsors the award, provides the money to be donated to the charity of the player's choosing. . . . Defenseman Neil Sheehy is due to visit a team doctor again this week. He said there might be a decision in the next week or two on whether he will have surgery on the herniated disk in his back. . . . The Baltimore Skipjacks and the Hershey Bears (the Flyers AHL affiliate) also had a penalty-filled game (177 minutes) Sunday. Because goalie Jim Hrivnak was given a match penalty (and a one-game suspension), Olie Kolzig was called up from Hampton.