League issues warning, but no ban, after Downie punches Leafs' Blake

Philadelphia Flyers forward Steve Downie, who ran afoul of the NHL in late September, escaped punishment this time, getting a warning Monday but no suspension for sucker-punching Toronto's Jason Blake.

During a conference call, Colin Campbell, NHL executive vice president and league disciplinarian, issued a warning to Downie, whose latest transgression took place Saturday in the third period of the Flyers' 3-2 victory in Toronto. Blake, who was being held back by an official at the time, never saw Downie's punch, which landed on his left eye. Downie, a rookie, was assessed a double-minor penalty.

"We had a conversation with Mr. Campbell, and that's it," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren told the Philadelphia-area media. "The rest will be between the league, the Flyers and Steve. It was a good talk.

"It's Steve's [fourth] NHL game. He's walking a fine line there, which is basically what he was told. My conversation with Steve was a little harsher than Colin Campbell's."

Downie, who acknowledged he has been put on notice again, said,
"I took a penalty that hurt the team, and I can't do that. There's a fine line you've got to follow, and I crossed it again. I've got to learn."

Downie was suspended 20 games for a dangerous hit on Ottawa center Dean McAmmond during a September preseason game. McAmmond suffered a concussion.

"He's part of a team now and needs to think in those terms and not selfishly," Holmgren said. "I'm upset. It was Jason Blake. Jason is not a fighter. You get a player in that position, and I don't think Jason had his gloves off. I'm not happy about that, either. The fact that Steve put his team down is a different issue. That's a selfish thing. He'll get better."

Campbell did not discipline the Leafs' Pavel Kubina, who ran Braydon Coburn on the side boards earlier in the game. Coburn was badly cut, but Kubina was not called for a penalty.

"Hits like that happen a lot," Holmgren said. "The puck was rolling and Braydon had to turn to handle it, and it probably should have been a penalty, but I'm not sure what [Campbell] thinks."

The Canadian media had made the sucker punch on Blake an issue, but Downie said, "It's Toronto; they blew it up a bit."