NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The NHL suspended Anaheim left winger Bobby Ryan for two games Saturday for stomping on Predators defenceman Jonathon Blum's foot, meaning one-third of the Ducks' top line will miss Games 3 and 4 in Nashville.
Ryan was caught by TV cameras using his left foot to step on Blum's skate while they battled for the puck against the boards with 3:25 left in Anaheim's 5-3 victory Friday night to even the opening playoff series. Ryan clinched the win with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
Footage spread quickly on YouTube, and a hearing was held Saturday while the Ducks skated in Nashville. Ryan caught a cab from the team hotel and joined the Ducks' practice. He heard the news during a drill.
"Oh, I don't agree with it. Not much to say," Ryan said. "Obviously came down right on top of his foot. I saw it 10-15 times today and watched it before the meeting. Don't see a two-game suspension, but it is what it is and it's his call. I'll be a good teammate and move forward."
The NHL obviously disagreed with Ryan's defence.
"The actions by Ryan were both reckless and dangerous," said Colin Campbell, the league's disciplinarian. "While it was fortunate there was no injury to Blum on the play, the act of using your skate in this manner is unacceptable."
Blum credited not being hurt to wearing a pair of new skates but said after practice Saturday he knew immediately that his foot had been stepped on.
"It's a pretty strong skate still. I was pretty lucky it didn't get it cut through," Blum said.
The Predators and Ducks skated Saturday on adjacent rinks at Centennial Sportsplex with Nashville finishing up maybe 20 minutes before Anaheim because the band Sugarland had the Bridgestone Arena for a concert. Nashville coach Barry Trotz hadn't heard the NHL's decision when he spoke but clearly didn't like what Ryan did, calling the move a cardinal sin in hockey.
"The only intent is to hurt someone and that's what we're trying to get out of the game," Trotz said. "He's one heck of a player. There's no question that I'd love to have Bobby Ryan on my team, but I think you know he did wrong on that one. There's no place in the game. You talk to any player. It's dangerous, and it's a cardinal sin in the game of hockey."
This means one of the NHL's most offensive lines will be missing the forward who scored two goals in helping Anaheim even the series before heading to Nashville. Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said he will fill in with someone, possibly Brad Winchester or Matt Beleskey.
Carlyle said he was a little surprised by the number of games but that it was tough to defend since Ryan did it. He said the Ducks will live with the NHL's decision if that's the price such an action deserves. But Carlyle defended his forward.
"That's not Bobby Ryan's style. This is a first time offence if anything, and ... I'm surprised. I didn't even see it until after the game, was surprised to see what happened during the game. There's no place for that," Carlyle said.
The NHL suspended Chris Pronger in March 2008 for eight games when the all-star defenceman was with the Ducks after he stomped on Vancouver centre Ryan Kesler's legs.