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Tampa Bay Lightning's Jamie Heward says hit by Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin that gave him concussion wasn't dirty

TAMPA — Jamie Heward said on a scale of one to 10, his headache is "an eight and a half, nine."

"If (this) is any indication of how I'm going to be feeling for the next little while," he added, "it's going to be a while" before he gets back on the ice.

The Lightning defenseman was at the St. Pete Times Forum on Friday after a night in a Washington hospital, spent mostly as a precaution, after he was sent headfirst into the Verizon Center corner boards by Capitals star Alex Ovechkin and lay unconscious for 90 seconds.

Heward, 37, sustained a concussion in Thursday's game and said he has whiplash-like pain. The team said tests performed at Sibley Memorial Hospital, where Heward stayed with assistant trainer Mike Poirier sleeping in a chair next to his bed, showed no spinal damage, and "the prognosis for his … health is good."

Heward said he could not recall anything before being put in an ambulance. He said he did not know who hit him until Friday. When he found out it was ex-Capitals teammate Ovechkin, he said, he knew the check, which came from behind and drove his head forward with an elbow, was unintentional.

The NHL agreed and declined to discipline last season's most valuable player, who was not penalized in the game, either.

"In my opinion, he's probably one of the cleanest players in the NHL as far as being honest," Heward said. "He'll play hard on you, but now that I know it was him, I know it wasn't intentional. I played with him for two years. We were pretty tight when I played there. I totally agree and think it was an accident."

Lightning general manager Brian Lawton said he did not agree with the league's interpretation as explained by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell.

"I was told it was not a targeted hit to the head, and their assessment was Ovechkin never left his feet," Lawton said, adding the league believed Heward helped cause the elbow by crouching somewhat as he pursued the puck.

"Under the explanation I was given, that was acceptable," Lawton said, "though I didn't personally agree with it."

"All you want to do is ensure the standard. The law of averages says we'll be on the other end of that some day. It would be nice to have a clearly defined standard."

Campbell declined to comment.

Coach Rick Tocchet's standard is to penalize all hits to the head.

"I can respect and understand their point of view, the NHL," Tocchet said. "It's just one of those things, an unfortunate incident that happens in a game. … I just think when someone gets hit in the head, regardless of whether it's an accident or not, it's a penalty no matter what."

It was difficult to argue after hearing Heward's symptoms.

"A little foggy right now," Heward said. "I can't distinguish between what's actually happening or something I'm just thinking about. … I can remember a few things and an hour later can't remember the same things."

As of Friday, Ovechkin had not called him, Heward said.

"He doesn't have to. I know how he feels. He said it in the paper. He talked to (Evgeny) Artyukhin and told him he's sorry. Some of the other guys on the Capitals left messages, and he told them the same thing.

"We'll talk someday. We'll have a beer in the summer, something like that, and we'll rehash it."

WISHART UP: With defensemen Paul Ranger (upper body) and Lukas Krajicek (fingers) also likely out tonight against Carolina, the team seems set to call up Ty Wishart from AHL Norfolk.

Wishart, 20, acquired from the Sharks in the Dan Boyle deal, had a goal and three points in his first 31 games with the Admirals. Tampa Bay apparently did not want to risk bringing up Mike Lundin, who would have to clear recall waivers.

Tampa Bay Lightning's Jamie Heward says hit by Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin that gave him concussion wasn't dirty 01/02/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 3, 2009 2:58pm]
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