Ottawa Senators forward Dean McAmmond suffered a concussion in Tuesday's 4-2 exhibition victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
McAmmond, 34, was levelled behind the opposing net 2:39 into the second period by prospect Steve Downie, who received a match penalty because he left his feet to make the hit.
"I didn't mean to hurt him and I hope he is OK," Downie said. "My game is to hit and to finish the check.
"I'm just trying to earn a spot on the roster. It is part of my game and I apologize for him getting hurt.
"I thought I got him clean. Once we hit the boards after, I asked if he was OK."
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.
"Everyone knows his reputation," Senators head coach John Paddock said. "He did it because [Cristoph] Schubert got him with a clean hit inside the blue-line and [Anton] Volchenkov got him in the first period.
"He is trying to make his name or place, whatever. But it was bad, that hit."
Downie's match penalty means he is suspended indefinitely, pending a review by the NHL.
"I don't know what they can do with a player who's probably going to be in the minors," Paddock said. "But it was one of those totally unnecessary [hits]."
Fights erupted on the ice as Senators forward Patrick Eaves tried to assist team physician Dr. Don Chow, who was attending to McAmmond.
McAmmond was wheeled away on a stretcher by paramedics and transported by ambulance to a local hospital.
Senators enforcer Brian McGratton was assessed a five-minute fighting major, a 10-minute misconduct, and a game misconduct in the brouhaha.
"It was a cheap shot," he said. "There is no part in the game for hits like that.
"A guy cannot defend himself and you take a 40-foot run and jump and hit him. Hopefully, the league takes a look at it.
"Those are the hits we don't want in our game. You don't want to see stuff like that, we're not out there to kill each other."
Warning for Downie
McGrattan later issued a warning to Downie.
"He will get what is coming to him," McGrattan said. "He will do it to the wrong guy and somebody will put him out of hockey.
"He will get what's coming to him next time we play him, that's for sure."
When play resumed, Joe Corvo scored for the Senators on the ensuing five-minute power play, and Jason Spezza tallied with the man advantage later in the period.
Daniel Alfredsson, shorthanded, and Shean Donovan had the other goals for the Senators (5-0-0).
Stefan Ruzicka and Joffrey Lupul replied for the Flyers (2-3-0).
Key contributor in playoffs
McAmmond posted 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points in 81 games with the Senators last season, and was a key contributor in the playoffs until elbowed in the face by Anaheim Ducks defenceman Chris Pronger in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.
McAmmond was diagnosed with a concussion and did not return in the championship series, which Anaheim clinched in five games.
McAmmond has totalled 164 goals and 393 points in 804 games over 14 NHL seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Flyers, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues and Senators.
The Grand Cache, Alta., native was drafted 22nd overall by Chicago in 1991.