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McAmmond: 'There's a problem'

Globe and Mail Update

OTTAWA — Ottawa Senators centre Dean McAmmond is still upset at being concussed by an illegal hit from Philadelphia prospect Steve Downie during an exhibition game Tuesday night.

But he said the hit provides an opportunity for the NHL to send a message to players who want to go head hunting this season.

"The timing of this hit couldn't be better," said. "We watched a video at the beginning of training camp on head blows. For this hit to come now amplifies there's a problem."

"Here's a guy who checked off all the criteria of what we don't want to happen. Maybe it's time for the league to send a message that makes guys think about hits like that."

Senators head coach John Paddock suggested that suspending Downie might be as much in the 20-year-old's long-term interest as the NHL's.

"I think for the good of Steve Downie he needs to be suspended for a long time," said Paddock. "What's really bothersome is he got checked with a clean hit (from Christoph Schubert) and he lost it."

"To be in the NHL when he's 24, maybe we need to take away the most important thing in the world to him. He's a young guy and we all know his history in the OHL. But if he can't control himself in normal hockey situations, that's not very good."

McAmmond said he and Downie had spoken by phone.

"I received a message and I called him back and he just apologized for the hit," said McAmmond. "I just said `thanks for the call' and that was it. I'm going to choose to believe he's sincere about it. I think, in hindsight, he probably wishes he didn't hit me so flagrantly."

Tuesday's concussion was the second for the 34-year-old in less than four months, following a hit by Chris Pronger that knocked him out of last June's Stanley Cup final.

McAmmond said he expected to be back on skates as soon as possible which, according to general manager Bryan Murray, means at least two weeks.

"Everyone is saying I have concussion problems," McAmmond said. "I don't have concussion problems. I've got a problem with someone giving me traumatic blows to the head. That's what I have a problem with."

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