Flyers' Boulerice suspended 25 games

Philadelphia Flyers forward Jesse Boulerice has been suspended 25 games for cross-checking Vancouver's Ryan Kesler, the NHL team said Friday.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Jesse Boulerice has been suspended 25 games for cross-checking Vancouver's Ryan Kesler, the NHL team said Friday.

The 25-game ban matches the largest suspension in league history. New York Islanders forward Chris Simon was handed the same penalty last March for his stick-swinging attack to the face of New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg.

Boulerice faced an automatic review by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell after he received a match penalty and a game misconduct for cross-checking Kesler in the face during the third period of Philadelphia's 8-2 victory in Vancouver on Wednesday night.

"He decided to do something that resulted in a bad action but not a terribly bad result and he was lucky," Campbell said of Boulerice on a conference call. "If it was a worse result, maybe there would be more than me looking into it today and that wouldn't be good for any of us."

The Flyers were not surprised by the length of the suspension.

"I expected the worst," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said after Friday's team practice. "Is 25 the worst? It's pretty close to what I expected."

"I think we're in agreement that there's no place in the game for this anymore," Holmgren said. "I do think it was an isolated incident. Jesse lost his composure, lost his cool. It's something that's not the right thing to do, at any time."

The ugly episode was the second involving the Flyers this year.

In a pre-season game in September, Flyers rookie Steve Downie received a 20-game ban for leaving his feet and delivering a shoulder to the head of Ottawa's Dean McAmmond.

The recent incidents and subsequent suspensions haven'thelped to erase Philadelphia's reputation as the Broad Street Bullies, a nickname given to the squad in the 1970s to describe its intimidating, brawling playing style.

"It's almost implied that's the direction we're going when it couldn't be further from the truth," Flyers head coach John Stevens said.

This is not the first time Boulerice, 29, has caused controversy.

In 1998, during his junior hockey days as a member of the Plymouth Whalers in Michigan, Boulerice was charged with assault to do great bodily harm less than murder after hitting Andrew Long of the Guelph Storm during the Ontario Hockey League final.

Boulerice, a native of Plattsburgh, N.Y., has 319 penalty minutes in 167 career NHL games.

Kesler, 23, suffered swelling in his jaw and lip and bruising to his face from the cross-check.He practised with his teammates Thursday and expects to play Friday when the Canucks face the Oilers in Edmonton.

Boulerice, who said after the game he acted in a "bad way," apologized again Friday night.

"I am very apologetic for what I did and I am ready to begin my suspension," he said. "I knew I was going to pay the consequences for my actions against Ryan Kesler in Vancouver and I respect the decision handed down by Mr. Campbell.

"During this time I will keep myself mentally and physically prepared for when the suspension is lifted."

With files from Canadian Press