Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

November 14, 2011

Lucic not suspended for hit on Miller

BUFFALO — The Sabres won’t get their wish. The NHL passed on suspending Milan Lucic on Monday, two days after the Bruins pest leveled goalie Ryan Miller in the left circle as the two chased down a loose puck in Boston.

Miller’s out indefinitely with a concussion. Lucic will play tonight against New Jersey.

“If (Lucic) isn’t suspended, it just means teams will be able to do exactly what Lucic did,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff told reporters Monday in Montreal prior to the ruling. “Their goaltender can play the puck, we can run him over. We can hurt him and all you get is a two-minute minor penalty. That is essentially what that means is that you can concuss the other team’s goaltender. You can run him going at whatever speed he was going. He made no attempt to get out of the way. It means it’s fair game on the goaltenders again.”

NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan held a phone hearing with Lucic in the afternoon.

“The (charging) minor penalty called on the ice was the correct call,” Shanahan told NHL.com. “And, while it’s unfortunate that Miller was hurt, I saw nothing egregious about this hit that would elevate it to supplemental discipline.”

Miller, meanwhile, “doesn’t feel good,” Ruff said. The 31-year-old also suffered a concussion in March.

“I’m always concerned anytime there’s that type of incident with any player,” Ruff said.

The Sabres’ feckless response to the hit has drawn wide criticism. With Miller flat on the ice, his mask dislodged from Lucic’s force, no one fought the winger, who’s 6-foot-3 and 228 pounds. Only a small scrum materialized.

Pick your adjective. The Sabres have been called “gutless” and “soft” and other embarrassing things by commentators.

The thump with 6:50 left in the first period turned a 1-0 deficit into a 6-2 Bruins triumph.

“It’s been dealt with, and we’re worried about winning a game,” said Ruff, who blew off the media Sunday. “This really should make our team better. This is something we can rally around.”Shanahan says he isn’t presiding over a league where goalies have to worry about getting hit, and thinks it’s “irresponsible” for the Sabres to suggest otherwise.

The NHL’s new disciplinarian reacted strongly to complaints from the Sabres on Monday after he elected not to suspend Lucic.

“I think Buffalo’s comments are irresponsible to suggest that it’s open season,” Shanahan said at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony. “I will have this warning for players: ‘It’s not. If you run a goalie you’re going to find yourself in the same situation that Lucic was today, you’re going to have to explain yourself and you don’t explain it sufficiently, and if I don’t buy it, you’re going to be suspended.’”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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