Friday, April 20, 2007

Hill suspended

New York Islanders defenseman Sean Hill has been suspended 20 games for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program. The suspension begins with tonight's Stanley Cup Eastern Conference Quarterfinal game against the Buffalo Sabres.

Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the suspension is accompanied by mandatory referral to the NHL/NHLPA Program for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health for evaluation and possible treatment.
Hill has been one of the Islanders go-to blueliners this year after he was bought out by the Florida Panthers in the off-season. He averaged 22:33 minutes per game this season, playing in a defensive role, but at 37, a lengthy suspension like this — not to mention the stigma attached — might mean the end of his career.

For the Islanders, his loss is going to make it that much more difficult to stay in the team's series with the Buffalo Sabres, who they'll square off with in about two hours time. Hill had played well in the series to this point, and New York really doesn't have a lot of blueline depth given Radek Martinek's season ended with a broken ankle in March.

Youngsters Bruno Gervais and Chris Campoli are going to be getting big minutes tonight.

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