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No suspension, $2500 fine for Walker punch on Aaron Ward
Posted By Joe Haggerty On May 11, 2009 @ 3:36 pm In General | 23 Comments
The National Hockey League today announced that Hurricanes forward Scott Walker has been fined $2,500 for the “sucker punch” of Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward that occurred at the 17:13 mark of the third period of Sunday night’s Game 5 against the Boston Bruins.
There will be no additional punishment assessed. Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien said that doctors thought Ward might have suffered a fractured orbital bone, and he is still a question mark for Game 6 Tuesday night against the Hurricanes in Raleigh.
Walker was originally assessed an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of the third period, which earns an automatic one-game suspension pending a ruling by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell. Campbell apparently ruled that Walker’s late game actions didn’t merit a suspension despite being the third man in and throwing the “sucker punch” while Ward clearly had his gloves on.
“We are satisfied with the league’s ruling,” said Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford. “After our team received several punches throughout the series leading up to Game 5, it was a matter of time before one was going to be thrown back.”
“I accept the league’s decision,” said Walker. “Based on what was said on the ice as I was dropping my gloves, it was my understanding that I was engaged in an altercation.”
B’s coach Claude Julien expected a suspension and said at Monday morning’s practice that he would be disappointed if Walker didn’t get hit with a penalty for something he considered to be a dirty play.
“In reviewing what I saw, I just didn’t like what happened. . . . I just don’t think there was any need for that,” said Julien. “He sucker-punched him once coming into the scrum when (Ward) was involved with another player. And then he dropped his gloves and sucker-punched him.
“I don’t care what people say about, ‘Ward should’ve protected himself.’ He had no intention of getting involved,” he added. “We asked our guys to stay composed and not fall into that trap, and he just did that. A guy with Walker’s experience should know better than to sucker-punch a guy.”
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