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Sabres' Hasek suspended for attack on writer

Published May 2, 1997|Updated Oct. 1, 2005

Sabres goalie Dominik Hasek was suspended Thursday for three playoff games and fined $10,000 by the NHL for attacking a reporter last week.

Commissioner Gary Bettman ordered Hasek to sit out the first three games of the Sabres' Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Philadelphia Flyers. The goalie will be allowed to play in Game 4 of the best-of-seven series.

Hasek, a favorite to win the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player, attacked Buffalo News reporter Jim Kelley Friday after Game 5 of Buffalo's series against the Ottawa Senators.

Hasek, who has not played since spraining his right knee in Game 3 against Ottawa, apparently was angry about a column in which Kelley suggested Hasek was succumbing to playoff pressure and questioned the severity of the goalie's injury.

"There is no dispute that Mr. Hasek had physical contact with Mr. Kelley," Bettman said in a statement. "Such contact between any National Hockey League personnel _ coaches, players, league officials or team executives _ and media personnel will not be tolerated.

"We want a clear message sent to the media who cover our games that they have a safe environment in which to work."

The incident happened outside the dressing rooms at Marine Midland Arena. Hasek screamed obscenities at Kelley before grabbing him by the shirt and taking a swing at him. The altercation was broken up by several people, including Sabres forward Jason Dawe.

Hasek apologized to Kelley, president of the NHL Writers Association, this week before meeting with Bettman in New York on Thursday. The Sabres did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The team scheduled a news conference Thursday night, but Hasek wasn't able to leave New York because of inclement weather. He made no statements.

"We felt it was necessary for the league and the Sabres to take a firm stand against the unprovoked attack on a reporter," Buffalo News

sports editor Howard Smith said. "The decision handed down by commissioner Gary Bettman sends a clear message to the players and the media that such actions will not be tolerated."

The Sabres already were preparing backup Steve Shields for the playoff against the Flyers. The series begins Saturday night at Marine Midland Arena.

Shields led the Sabres to two straight victories over the Senators, including a shutout in Game 6 and a 25-save performance in Game 7 of Buffalo's 3-2 overtime win.

Hasek has not practiced with the team since skating off the ice after the Senators scored on him in Game 3. He skated without the team Wednesday but has spent little time with his teammates since the incident.

"Dominik's not here. He's not practicing, so I want to concentrate on this team right now," Sabres coach Ted Nolan said after practice Thursday. "Steve Shields is the guy right now."

Philadelphia had a better record during the regular season, but Buffalo won home-ice advantage in the series by winning the Northeast Division. The Sabres were 2-1-1 against the Flyers during the regular season.

Hasek, a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, carried Buffalo for most of the season and played well in the first three playoff games before he was injured. Shields, who had just 13 career starts entering the playoffs, played poorly in Game 5 before bouncing back the next two games.

"Hopefully, I can just take advantage of the opportunities when I get them until Dom comes back," Shields said. "I'm just going to continue to hold the fort until he's able to play."

The playoff suspension stands in contrast to baseball's handling of Roberto Alomar last fall. The Orioles second baseman, who spat on an umpire in a September confrontation, was suspended for five games but he was allowed to play in post-season games; the suspension took effect at the beginning of this season. Umpires threatened to boycott the playoffs until an injunction ordered them to the field.

Raleigh may get Whalers

The Whalers, who are leaving Hartford, probably will move to Raleigh, N.C., next season, ESPN reported. The network said the team would disclose the move Monday, barring a last-minute breakdown in negotiations.

Team owner Peter Karmanos, reached by telephone in his Detroit office, said a decision could come as early as today. He would not confirm or deny the ESPN report.

ESPN reported the team will play its home games in a new 20,000-seat arena beginning in 1999, sharing it with North Carolina State. A sticking point, ESPN said, is where the Whalers will play until then. One possibility is a 21,000-seat arena in Greensboro; another is a smaller arena in Fayetteville.

LIGHTNING GOODS: A sale of used Lightning equipment will be held from 5-9 tonight and noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at SunBlades Ice Arena, 13940 Icot Blvd., Clearwater. Items for sale include sticks, skates, pads, gloves, pants and practice jerseys. Payment is by cash or check only. Call (813) 536-5843.

BRUINS: Boston University coach Jack Parker met with Bruins officials about the vacant coaching job.

_ Information from staff writer Tim Buckley was used in this report.

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