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Three-game suspension starts tonight for Roy

Lightning enforcer Andre Roy is punished for shoving officials after a fight against Islanders.

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 14, 2003


ATLANTA -- Andre Roy spoke softly, his head bowed.

Sitting in front of his locker after Thursday's practice, the Lightning left wing appeared nothing like the raging bull who on Tuesday traded punches with the Islanders' Eric Godard and then shoved linesman Lyle Seitz and referee Paul Stewart as they tried to get him to the penalty box and then to the locker room.

Roy admitted his emotions got the best of him after the second-period brawl he hoped would give Tampa Bay, trailing 3-1, an emotional lift.

"I'm pretty fired up after a fight," he said. "I guess I have a shorter temper than most guys. I just have to control it the same way."

Roy's three-game suspension, which will cost him $25,609.77, begins tonight against the Thrashers at Philips Arena. He is lucky it was not longer.

The 6-foot-3, 221-pound enforcer was suspended 13 games for wrestling with officials after a fight last season with the Rangers' Sandy McCarthy. And he was given a pass by NHL director of operations Colin Campbell after punching (apparently in self defense) Detroit's Kirk Maltby from the bench during a Jan. 7 game at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Even though Campbell warned Roy not to get into trouble again, he did not increase the automatic three-game suspension that comes with a Rule 76(a), Category III call for physical abuse of an official.

Campbell may have shown mercy because the fine, combined with the $75,000 Roy lost during the 13-game suspension, represents one-seventh of Roy's $700,000 salary. Campbell could not be reached for comment, but spokesman Frank Brown said "the three games under the rule book application was deemed appropriate."

Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said he did not lobby Roy's case.

"There was no excuse and no defense and I wasn't going to offer one," Feaster said. "It's an emotional game and Andre was trying to give us an emotional lift and I appreciate that. But at the same time, particularly for a player who has the history Andre does, he has to understand the consequences of his actions."

"He has to find, not an off switch but a temper switch," coach John Tortorella said, "especially when it comes to the referees."

The fight at Nassau Coliseum against Godard, 22, a 6-4, 220-pounder Tortorella called "a tough, tough kid," was finished when Seitz wrapped Roy in a bear hug.

Roy said he told Seitz he was ready to go to the penalty box but the linesman would not let go of his jersey. That is when the first shove occurred.

"I had no intention of doing that," said Roy, who has a shiner under his left eye. "It just happened so fast. It was like, 'I'm going to the box, leave me alone.' It wasn't like I was going to fight him. It was just after a fight. I need my five minutes to settle down and calm down. That's it."

Seitz and Stewart, who immediately gave Roy a game misconduct, tried to direct Roy off the ice and more shoving took place. Tortorella did not approve of Roy's actions, but said understanding the context is crucial.

"It's almost like a frenzy you get yourself into to gear yourself up (for a fight), and to bring yourself right back down is a difficult thing to do," the coach said. "I have a tough time in kicking him because he was trying to do something for the team, and I hope some of the guys within our team appreciate what he was trying to do. But the shenanigans after that, no, that has to stop."

Asked if it will happen again, Roy, who is eligible to return Wednesday against the Thrashers at the Times Forum, said, "I hope not. I said after my last suspension, I don't want to do anything like that. But I don't know how to say it, that's just how I am."

"It's a little bit like talking to my kids," Feaster said. "Sometimes I talk and talk and I'm not sure the message gets through. At some point it comes down to the player recognizing his situation and being responsible."

TAYLOR FINED: Center Tim Taylor was fined $1,000 by the league for a separate incident in which he swung his stick at Godard. Taylor missed and hit teammate Nolan Pratt on the bench.

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