Caps' Hunter suspended 4 games for elbowing


LANDOVER -- Washington Capitals center Dale Hunter has been suspended four games by National Hockey League executive vice president Brian O'Neill.

Hunter, who was called to the NHL offices in Toronto for a hearing Thursday, will begin his suspension with the March 2 game against the New York Islanders, and also will miss games against the Los Angeles Kings, Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers.

The suspension stemmed from an incident in the third period of a game at the Capital Centre Feb. 10 when Hunter was penalized for elbowing Philadelphia's Gord Murphy behind the Flyers' goal. Later in the period, the teams engaged in the free-for-all that led to 11 ejections and 294 penalty minutes for the game.

"There is no dispute that Hunter deliberately struck his opponent with an elbow that must be characterized as vicious and that he was fully aware of what he was doing," O'Neill said. "It is also clear that he did not show any restraint at the time he administered the blow. In handing down this decision, the league is stating that players must be responsible for their actions, and when excessive measures are used in fouling an opponent, they can expect severe penalties."

"I wasn't surprised that I was suspended," Hunter said, "but I was surprised at the length. I thought I would get maybe one or two games."

O'Neill said he is reviewing tapes of other parts of the game, and other penalties could be assessed against both teams.

The Capitals said they would not appeal.

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