The National Hockey League sent a clear message to Washington Capitals forward Donald Brashear. Don't mess with opposing players during pregame warmups and don't deliver cheap shots to their heads during games.
Earlier this afternoon, the league announced Brashear has been suspended for six games after initating contact with New York Rangers forward Colton Orr prior to Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series at Madison Square Garden. During the game, he leveled Blair Betts with a shoulder to the head nearly halfway through the first period of Washington's 5-3 victory.
"Brashear delivered a shoulder hit to an unsuspecting player," NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said. "It is also my opinion that the hit was delivered late and targeted the head of his opponent, causing significant injury."
Brashear will be ineligible to play in tomorrow night's Game 7 at the Verizon Center in Washington. This first game will be punishment for his prohibited contact with Orr during pregame warmups. Should the Capitals lose to the Rangers in Game 7, Brashear will serve the first five 2009-2010 regular season games for his head-hunting blow to Betts' head. If Washington advances to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Brashear will sit out at least four games and then one additional game should their next series go to a Game 5.
Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau has not announced who would replace Brashear in their lineup for Game 7 and possibly beyond. Chris Clark and Michael Nylander are the most likely candidates.