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AHL rules Downie ineligible until Nov. 3

ahl06_200.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews today announced the league’s decision regarding the AHL eligibility of Philadelphia Flyers forward Steve Downie.

Downie has been ruled ineligible to play in the AHL for one month from the start of the 2007-08 regular season, which begins on Wednesday. He will be permitted to play in the league as of November 3, 2007.

“The American Hockey League has established a strict disciplinary standard over the last several seasons relative to deliberate hits to the head,” said Andrews. “We strongly support the National Hockey League’s recent directives on these dangerous hits, and we want to send a clear message that actions such as Mr. Downie’s are unacceptable in our game.”

Downie was suspended 20 games by the National Hockey League on Sept. 28 for delivering a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Dean McAmmond in an NHL preseason game, and was assigned by the Flyers to the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms on Sept. 29. According to the AHL’s by-laws, a player who is under suspension in another league or organization who seeks to play in the AHL while under that suspension will have the relevant disciplinary matter independently reviewed by the President of the American Hockey League, who may in his discretion deem the player ineligible.

Downie’s AHL eligibility does not affect the terms of his NHL suspension.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 83 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the sixth year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2006-07. The AHL’s 72nd regular season gets underway on Wednesday, Oct. 3.