Downie apologizes to McAmmond for hit

Suspended Philadelphia Flyers prospect Steve Downie apologized Thursday to Ottawa Senators forward Dean McAmmond for knocking him out cold with a vicious hit.

Suspended Philadelphia Flyers prospect Steve Downie apologized Thursday to Dean McAmmond for knocking him out cold with a hit two nights earlier.

McAmmond, a 34-year-old forward with the Ottawa Senators, suffered a concussion when he was levelled by Downie behind the net 2:39 into the second period of Tuesday's 4-2 pre-season victory over the Flyers at Scotiabank Place.

"He called and I called him back," McAmmond said. "He just kind of reiterated what he said on TV, that he didn't mean to hurt me.

"I'm going to choose to believe it. I think he is sincere."

Downie, who received a match penalty because he left his feet to make the hit, is suspended indefinitely, pending a review by the NHL.

"He needs to be suspended for a long time," Senators head coach John Paddock said. "Take [hockey] away from him, so hopefully he remembers."

"He is just a young kid," McAmmond acknowledged. "I understand what he was trying to do, but it is the way he went about it I don't agree with."

McAmmond lay motionless on the ice as he was attended to by team physician Dr. Don Chow, and later wheeled out on a stretcher by paramedics and transported by ambulance to a local hospital.

"I was lifeless there and I'm pretty thankful that nothing more serious happened there," said McAmmond, who was released from hospital early Wednesday.

"Actually, I feel pretty good considering. It was pretty excessive, I guess."

History of concussions

McAmmond has suffered three concussions in the NHL — two of them in less than four months.

He was a solid contributor for Senators in last spring's playoffs until elbowed in the face by Anaheim Ducks defenceman Chris Pronger in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.

McAmmond was diagnosed with a concussion and did not return in the championship series, which Anaheim clinched in five games.

"People say I have got concussion problems, but I don't have concussion problems," he said. "I have got a problem with people giving me traumatic blows to the head, that's what I have got a problem with."

Downie, drafted 29th overall by Philadelphia two years ago, was known for questionable hits when he played junior hockey with the Windsor Spitfires, Peterborough Petes and Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.

"It could have been career-ending," Senators enforcer Brian McGrattan said. "You could kill a guy with a hit like that.

"You can get away with it in junior, but you won't get away with it in this league, not for long. I think he should get 15 to 20 games."

"I think the kid is the kind of player that every team in the league wants, but you have got to have control," Paddock noted. "If he is not going to be able to control himself in a normal situation, then you are no good."

With files from the Canadian Press