If you haven't seen it for yourself, take a look first:
Flyers coach John Stevens looked this as "a vicious incident" and "a very, very dangerous play."
We'd half agree. To be sure, it was a dangerous play and Georges Laraque deserved the boarding call and probably the game misconduct he received. To call it vicious though is a little extreme, especially for a coach who's players are usually the ones laying opponent's out..
Steve Downie commented with a little more reasonable outlook like "stuff like that happens," and "we were both going in the corner for the puck".
True enough, both were racing to a puck down in the corner, a play that happens many times over in a game. Downie put himself in a worse position by cutting face towards the boards. He didn't deserve to be knocked into them, but as he mentioned, stuff like that just happens in hockey.
Laraque, for his part, says "he got up and [got in a fight] in the third, so I'm not worried about it at all. He was fine. He was laughing. He did that job perfectly. He drew a five-minute power play. That was his job, and it worked."
He then added something we totally believe:
"If I want to hit somebody from behind, he's not going to get up."
Certainly if BGL intended to lay a check on Downie, who've we established as putting himself in a bad situation, he could have driven him damn near through the boards and Downie wouldn't have gotten up. Laraque did, it seemed, pull up a little. Almost all of the force Downie had going into the boards was generated not by contact but his own footspeed.
Regardless Laraque did board him and deserved the 5 minute penalty and probably the game misconduct. But he did not intend to injure, it was just a common play in hockey gone wrong, but not horribly wrong; as Downie wasn't injured. So, to us, no suspension seems warranted.
(Quotes reported by the PG)