Hockey

Flyers' Briere gets 3-game suspension

The Philadelphia Flyers will be without Danny Briere after the NHL slapped the forward with a three-game suspension for cross-checking the New York Islanders' Frans Nielsen.

The Philadelphia Flyers will be without Danny Briere after the NHL slapped the forward with a three-game suspension for cross-checking an opponent in the face during Saturday's game against the New York Islanders.

League officials handed Briere the ban after the player got his stick up in the face of Isles centre Frans Nielsen during a face-off with about a minute to go in the third period of the 6-1 Flyer win.

"I'm shocked," Briere said before Philadelphia hosted the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night. "Surprised is not strong enough. After all the suspensions that have been handed out the last couple of years and this year, I didn't think I was going to get a game. Then I thought, 'OK, yes, I am a repeat offender, they'll probably give me a game because of it.' I'm shocked that it was more than a game."

Briere was assessed a five-minute cross-checking penalty as well as a 10-minute game misconduct.

Briere, who received a two-game suspension last season for a late hit on Colorado Avalanche defenceman Scott Hannan, sparked a melee in the final minute with his cross-check. The teams combined for 120 minutes of penalties in the game, 37 coming from Briere's incident, which he said resulted from the previous faceoff with Nielsen.

A few minutes earlier, Islanders forward Trevor Gillies was hit with a triple minor for roughing for trying to fight Flyers defenceman Braydon Coburn, a fight that was interrupted by Briere.

"I made a mistake. My stick was up. I'm the first one to admit that it shouldn't have been there," Briere said. "After what happened with Trevor Gillies on Coburn, I said, 'I got to protect myself,' and if you see the faceoff before, he gets me in a headlock and punches me behind the head.

"When you get embarrassed like that, there's lots of frustration," Briere said. "They didn't like that and had to respond some way, somehow. They did it with their fists."

After Monday's conference call with the NHL's disciplinary committee, Briere was slated to miss that evening's game against Carolina, Thursday's game against the Rangers and Saturday's rematch against the Islanders. He will also forfeit $237,804 US in pay, which will go into the NHL Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, though unhappy with the suspension, added that they are just part of the game.

"I'm not happy to lose a player like Danny for three games, but I felt it would be something like that because of his history," Holmgren said. "It's part of the process we have to go through, and there's not a whole lot we can do about it right now. It's too bad for the team."

With files from The Associated Press