LANDOVER -- The Minnesota North Stars will be without rookie defenseman Derian Hatcher for 10 games because of a high-sticking incident against the Washington Capitals' Dino Ciccarelli last Saturday.
Hatcher, the younger brother of Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Hatcher, slashed Ciccarelli under his left eye last Saturday at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minn. The gash took 10 stitches to close, and Ciccarelli sat out the next game.
"It's good the league recognized that a foul had been committed," Capitals coach Terry Murray said of the suspension announced yesterday. "The NHL has been trying to get the sticks down and there must be no leniency in a high-sticking situation like that. It cannot be tolerated. It is not for me to say the punishment was too lenient or not, but if it were for any lesser time . . . "
The odd thing about the incident was that referee Kerry Fraser did not call a penalty against the younger Hatcher. Murray at the time argued that a high-sticking major and a game misconduct should be called and appealed the decision to the National Hockey League office. A hearing and review of the game tape were held Wednesday.
Brian O'Neill, NHL executive vice president, yesterday suspended Hatcher for 10 games without pay. The suspension will take effect in seven days (Dec. 20) unless Minnesota notifies the NHL that it will waive the appeal period.
"The swing by Hatcher, which struck Ciccarelli directly in the face, was vicious and severe enough to cause serious injury," said O'Neill. "The blade of the stick was turned in and this was a direct cause of the extent of the injury to Ciccarelli. The player used extremely reckless and careless means to check an opponent who at the time was not in possession of the puck."
Ciccarelli found some solace in the decision to suspend Hatcher.
"The league is obviously taking steps toward curbing this type of violence," said Ciccarelli, who had a goal in last night's 5-3 loss to the Rangers. "Hatcher may or may not have intentionally tried to injure me, but in the way he turned his stick he opened a bad cut under my eye. It was a black-and-white situation. You could see it on the replay. They can continue to show the replay, but if a guy loses an eye what good does it do? You have to make players responsible for their sticks. I was lucky the cut was clean and it did not get infected and cause me to lose my sight."