Nolan feels punishment doesn't fit the crime

Grant Marshall's return to the Dallas Stars' lineup left an impression on San Jose Sharks' captain Owen Nolan.

Marshall, who was knocked cold by Nolan last week, was in uniform and scored a goal in the Stars 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Friday.

"Yeah, knocked some hands into him," quipped Nolan.

"He obviously isn't hurt that bad," he added.

And that, according to Nolan and the Sharks, is the point.

Marshall missed just one game as a result of the hit. Nolan, who was slapped with an 11-game suspension by the NHL, isn't eligible to return until March 1.

"We've always felt as an organization that this penalty is excessive, so we're going to go up to New York and try to get it reduced," said Sharks' president Greg Jamison.

Jamison, Nolan and general manager Dean Lombardi will present their case to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Friday. Their presentation is expected to last no longer than 20 minutes.

A decision expected shortly thereafter.

Earlier this week both Nolan and Lombardi pointed to several comparable instances in which a player received a much lighter suspension.

"We've watched a lot of tapes of similar instances in the last few days, and there are a lot of plays that are worse. If you're going to set a standard, you've got to at least relate it to some other instances," Nolan said.

With five seconds left in the first period of the Stars' 4-2 victory, Nolan skated in on Marshall and flattened the unsuspecting player with his forearm as the Stars' right winger was skating to the bench for a line change. Marshall fell backwards, hitting his head on the ice.

He was removed from the ice on a stretcher and hospitalized with a concussion.

Nolan was retaliating to a hit he took early in the first period, for which Marshall was given a boarding penalty.

Lombardi also indicated that Nolan's heavy punishment was, in part, a result of his bad relationship with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

"It's no secret that Gary Bettman has an intense dislike for Dean Lombardi, professionally and personally," Lombardi said.

"Our philosophies on sport and player relations probably have as much a chance of finding a common ground as the Arabs and the Israelis."

Jamison carefully sidestepped the issue of a league bias against San Jose, saying that emotions may have gotten the better Lombardi.

"Dean is passionate about the San Jose Sharks. He has worked very hard on the presentation of the case and the defence."

If the appeal is unsuccessful, the Sharks will be without Nolan and injured centre Vincent Damphousse -- two-thirds of their top line earlier this season -- for three critical late-season weeks.

Damphousse and Nolan are the Sharks' top two scorers.