Updated: NHL suspends Eager for four games

The NHL dealt a swift and heavy blow to Ben Eager Saturday, suspending the Thrashers forward four games for punching Toronto’s Colby Armstrong during Friday’s game. Eager, who received a match penalty, will forfeit $20,752.68 in salary. He will miss Sunday’s game against Carolina and the following contests with Philadelphia, Dallas and Florida.

The suspension comes 15 days after Boston’s Milan Lucic received a match penalty for a late punch on Thrashers defenseman Freddy Meyers. Lucic was not suspended and received a $2,500 fine. Philadelphia’s Jody Shelley was suspended two games for a collision with Boston’s Adam McQuaid in December.

“I’m surprised in one way, but there is no parity in these suspensions that are handed out,” Eager said Saturday. “The last two incidents I’ve seen, they knocked a guy out with no glove on and get no fine. The Lucic incident, he suckers a guy who’s not even looking, with no glove on, and he gets fined $2,500. Then Jody Shelley does the same thing to a guy who is watching and he gets two games. I get four [games] somehow for hitting a guy with my glove on, that is looking right in my face. We are looking eye to eye.  I guess [NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell] wanted a quiet weekend. He didn’t want the Toronto media calling him all weekend. He did what he had to do.

“It is what it is. It’s four games. I will deal with it and move on.”

With Eager suspended and injuries preventing Evander Kane (mid-body), Jim Slater (concussion) and Fredrik Modin from traveling with the team to Raleigh, the Thrashers re-called forward Tim Stapleton from AHL Chicago. The team will need to recall another forward, which could be  Spencer Machacek.

The incident occurred in the second period of Friday’s 9-3 loss to Toronto. Dustin Byfuglien was called for a roughing penalty and in the ensuing melee, Eager punched Armstrong. The former Thrasher left Philips Arena with his right eye completely bandaged.

Eager, who has been suspended in the past, said previous incidents may have contributed to the stiff penalty. He said he was not given an explanation of the penalty.

“I sure that might have played into it,” Eager said. “I’ve seen the tape. I don’t think it warrants four games regardless if I’ve been suspended before in the past.

“You don’t get any explanation. They just take the money out of your paycheck. That’s all you see at the end of the day. You don’t get any feedback, any reason why. Maybe just a couple of quotes in the paper.”

The Maple Leafs scored four times on the major power play. They also scored a first-period power play when Eager was called for a double minor for roughing and cross-checking.

Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said he spoke to Eager about staying in control following the double minors.

“It’s stiff of course,” Ramsay said of the suspension. “For Ben it’s too bad, but these are lessons we learn as we move through this game. Our complaint would be that the hit on Freddy Meyer was deemed OK. We don’t question the league. We just deal with it and move on.”

Several players, including Meyer, also said they felt an explanation of the penalty was warranted.

“There have been a few cases this year and each one has escalated – from a fine, to two games, to four games,” Meyer said. “What causes the escalation? It would be nice for me as a player or the average fan to know the rules and what the course of action will be.”

55 comments Add your comment


January 8th, 2011
1:01 pm


January 8th, 2011
1:12 pm

Eager’s comments here and in the post game don’t really do much to make me like him more. He could at least feel a little sorry for costing his team the game (the only player to give the Leafs power plays and while that’s still a 4-3 loss, the Thrashers might have been able to come back if it wasn’t that big of a score deficit).

Moth Balled Jersey

January 8th, 2011
1:14 pm

Why can’t the NHL ever be fair to Southern Markets? Eager should have gotten 40 games so we’d be rid of his stupid, selfish, moronic, body.


January 8th, 2011
1:16 pm

I was there and saw the incident…..Colby Armstrong is a “jackwagon” at best, and deserved to be beat up, but not in the manner in which Eager carried out “his justice”. Eager wasobviously frustrated from his earlier double minor penalties and that coupled with the locker room chat that took place regarding the kneeing of Rich Peverly in the first period (by Army) and the subsequent knocking of Captain Ladd with a stick (by Army) i am certain Eager was looking for a way to deck Armstrong. The ref likely would not have given Eager such a harsh penalty, yet, if you saw Eager’s exchange with the same Ref, from the penalty box in the first period, you could argue why the ref did what he did. Eager was yelled and pointed at by the ref in the first period as Eager continued to cuss and scream after the double minor call.

Eager obviously does not fit in coach Ramsay’s system or style and likely will be gone at seasons end, if not sooner, via trade.

Sherry Taylor

January 8th, 2011
1:26 pm

I hope it was worth the game misconduct and penalty minutes. Minutes we could used to have another body on the ice.


January 8th, 2011
1:26 pm

Since we may end up with a shortage of LW for tomorrow, we may see the return of Nigel Dawes to the line-up. Then again, he didn’t exactly endear himself to Coach Ramsay when here the first time.

Both Stapleton and Machacek are RW so it’ll be interesting to see who we call up this time. It’ll prolly be Timmy S again since Rammer loves him to death, but wouldn’t he have to clear waivers again the next time we send him back??

A look at the line-up without Kane, Slater and Eager, all who are left wings:

Ladd-Lits-Bergy (remains unchanged)

Antro-Pevs-Stewy (Antro is a lefty who plays a lot of RW)



I think I’d rather have Macho to play his style of aggressive, hard-checking hocky on the 4th line with Boults at LW and Thorbs at C. Then bench Modin so Antro can play the off-wing with Burmy on the left-side of Cormier at center. Tough call, whatta y’all think?

hey :(

January 8th, 2011
1:30 pm

there would have been a power play even if eager didn’t clock armstrong because there was already a delayed penalty called on buff. pay attention, you jackass.


January 8th, 2011
1:38 pm

wow. 4 games. Unreal.

I hope my picks up Gregory Campbell in the off-season


January 8th, 2011
1:53 pm

Phaneuf canceled that out though. There wouldn’t have been a powerplay. Sounds like you’re the one who should pay attention.

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January 8th, 2011
2:29 pm

I gotta be honest and say that I actually like having a guy like Eager around and I don’t really think he’s been given enough of an opportunity here. Now, there may be a reason for that as I’m now understanding via Rawhide that he’s not thought very highly of in the locker room. If he’s causing problems there, then I say send him packing, but I’m sure we can get something in return for him.

The reason I like the idea of having a guy like Eager is because we never seem to have that kinda guy. I can’t remember ever having a true “agitator”. Armstrong was supposed to be one, but he’s a wiener. I always hate it when other teams would roll into town with guys like Avery. We have nothing to counter that with. Most of those guys don’t want to fight, they just want to run their mouths.

In Eager, we have a guy who will run his mouth, agitate the other team and fight when needed.

Tony C.

January 8th, 2011
2:44 pm

Four games? Wow. You know if that’d been Eager decking say… LaRose, He’d have gotten a $5K fine MAX….foolish penalty and Armi did what Armi is supposed to do (yet never really seemed to while he was here), goad the other guy into a foolish penalty. Wish that Campbell would update his “Wheel o’ Justice”…the lack of consistency in NHL disciplinary penalties is beyond comical at this point. I would think this gets addressed in the next CBA.

hey :(

January 8th, 2011
2:46 pm

phaneuf jumped in after eager hit army, not on buff. pay attention.

hey :(

January 8th, 2011
2:48 pm

let me spell it out for you because you seem to have a hard time following chain of events. that means that there would have still been a penalty on buff. you dig?

R. Stroz

January 8th, 2011
3:23 pm

Although I don’t condone Eager’s behavior, let me get this straight, Cindy Crotchby fists Big Boris from behind while he is being held by another player and receives NOTHING, yet, Eager pops Armstrong in the face and gets four games.

I wonder what would happen if someone ever laid a finger on Greg Campbell?

Colin Campbell is a joke, a bad joke.


January 8th, 2011
3:27 pm

I agree with Eager about the inconsistancies. Lucic sucker-punches Freddy Meyer while the linesman is holding Meyer, and Lucic gets off scott free.

Does Colin Campbell have any other sons (or even daughters), that we can sign?


January 8th, 2011
3:49 pm

We do have that player. His name is Eric Boulton. He actually fought last night, not let his emotions get a hold of him to the point of drawing four minutes of useless penalties. Boults may not have won the fight, but it was a good fight. Not one sided at all. They both threw a bunch of punches and landed a bunch of punches. That is an agitator, not Eager who was way out of control last night.

East Point Bob

January 8th, 2011
3:54 pm

Colin Campbell is a little bitch who does whatever he wants, if fair or not. As we can all plainly
see, this is a joke, maybe a game, but remember this is Atlanta, and the NHL oldtimers like Campbell, will never accept the fact that hockey is a sport played all over the world. Too bad the NHL employs a joke like Campbell, The worst the NHL has to offer !


January 8th, 2011
4:23 pm

why do people keep thinking Eager cost the Thrashers the game? the team was lifeless and already down 4 or 5 goals. you are all acting like it was a one-goal game in which we actually had a goalie in net. we didn’t. i think the NHL literally pulls the number of games to be suspended out of a hat.


January 8th, 2011
4:27 pm

Well, when two of your lines are blown up and you insert a raw rookie and Ben Eager to replace the likes of Evander Kane and Jim Slater the team is bound to suffer. This is a playoff team if they can stay relatively healthy. I’d be thinking about trading next years draft choice for some help up front.


January 8th, 2011
4:28 pm

Eager-you can be a tough guy, but you’ve got to be smart. Those penalties were just STUPID.


January 8th, 2011
4:46 pm

I’m still pissed about Lucic not even getting a game.


January 8th, 2011
5:19 pm

Call Up the FLY he plays LW

Gwinnett Fred

January 8th, 2011
5:57 pm


A pro sports commissioner showing bias????

You’ve got to be kidding!!!!

Bettman is a boob and any NFL hockey franchise south of Columbus will never get a fair shake, especially when a Canadian team is involved.

Gwinnett Fred

January 8th, 2011
5:58 pm

Make that a NHL franchise, of course.


January 8th, 2011
6:02 pm

You can’t lay a hand on guys these days, ecspecially superstars like Crosby and Ovi, but Army?? It’s always a minor or a fine or a suspension. I agree that the punch was not necessary but 4 games?


January 8th, 2011
6:13 pm

I wouldn’t mind seeing Postma getting called up and seeing Buff move up to offense.
Or something of the sorts.


January 8th, 2011
6:19 pm

Ya 4 game suspension is overkill especially when Lucic did MUCH WORSE with GLOVE OFF to the FACE of Freddy Meyer and only gets a few thousand dollar fine? Are you kidding me commissioner? Seriously? WTF?


January 8th, 2011
6:19 pm

As a Leaf fan, First off its nice to read these comments from Thrasher fans. We tend to hear about there being little fan support in Atlanta, but clearly there are passionate fans cheering for this team.

Last nights game was chippy right from the start. There was a lot of unnecessary hits behind the play from both teams. I personally like games like that, there is a lot of emotion in them.

I agree with all of you that have questioned the way the NHL handles suspensions, and lack of any sense of consistency. I have yelled about it many times in my hockey blog, however I think I can understand the 4 games.

First off, there have been a ton of sucker punches this year. Some of the comments here have mentioned a few of them, but there have been others. At first there were no fines, and as they kept happening, the penalties went up. I guess it curb these incidents from happening. Next guy will get more games.

Another thing is the game last night itself. The game was pretty much out of reach at the point the punch happened, it was 5-1. Eager already had a double minor in the game for similar, but lesser penalties (slash, crosscheck). He also was running his mouth off at the ref that called the double minor (refs remember that stuff), and he has a history of suspensions.

I believe, if it was just the sucker punch, with out any other of these factors, he would have only gotten 2 games. Even watching it last night I expected him to receive a max 2 games.

Anyway, its all in the past now. Good luck with the rest of the season, your team is doing a lot better then mine is, even with last nights crazy score….

Puck Like A Porn Star

January 8th, 2011
6:52 pm

Wait, so the NHL is suspending Eager for … doing his job??

Tom Lysiak

January 8th, 2011
7:22 pm

LeafFan, thanks for the post. The first one I’ve seen not talking trash. You could tell it was going to be one of those games. Eager should not have done that and deserves to sit for a while. Colby played here long enough for us to know his tricks. He had taken a run at Peverley’s knee earlier and that was vintage Colby. He usually runs his mouth and he had something coming, but not that.

Don’t believe that crap about fans not caring down here. The whole city may not be obsessed like you guys are, but there are enough. Anyway, good luck to you for the rest of the season.

Mike in Canton

January 8th, 2011
7:38 pm

Four games is unreal. What a poorly officiated game overall. Players getting tripped, held, slashed, and cross-checked all over the ice. The refs let that game get way out of hand and obviously, the penalties were extremely lopsided. In one 5 second span, the same Toronto player tripped two Thrashers players next to each other and right next to the linesman. Awful.


January 8th, 2011
7:52 pm

The game was flat out….embarrasing. It would’ve have been a little more acceptable if they were play someone like…Tampa. But even still, a 9-3 loss is unacceptable. Even though we suffered the loss, I still have 100% faith in this team. I hope Rammer figured out what happened and hopefully tomorrow’s game will have a much outcome.

Go Thrashers

Get The Puck Out

January 8th, 2011
8:15 pm

The game stunk to high heaven and the Thrashers got trampled. I just hate that those new fans that came to the game had to watch such a stinker. Not much of an incentive to come back, but it is one game. Redemption in Raleigh sunday.


January 8th, 2011
8:40 pm

We got hosed.
4 games is absurd.
You want suspensions???
How’s about that Zebra crew? What a bunch of incompetents!

AND, most assuredly…. IT IS NOT ALL IN THE PAST!!!
It WILL HAPPEN AGAIN as the freakin O-fficials are NEVER held accountable!

That was a hose job.


January 8th, 2011
8:55 pm

Actually, I’m still more perplexed with the double minor on Eager earlier in the game – for, like, tapping the guy on the shoulder? I’d be really pissed after that too, in all honesty.


January 8th, 2011
9:45 pm

Eager gets a four game suspension for punching Armstrong with his gloves on?
Lucic gets nothing for punching Meyer with his gloves off while Meyer’s arms are being held by an official and another Bruins player and can not defend himself?
It looks to me like a very inconsistent an arbitrary discipline process. Bettman and the League need to look into this process, as it appears to be very biased.
I think Colin Campbell should be suspended. (Or resign… He’s the biggest joke in the NHL).


January 8th, 2011
10:42 pm

This isn’t entirely unexpected. We expect to get hosed, as a southern market, playing a Canadian club, on a disciplinary matter. Punching someone with your glove on … is pretty bad, and suspendable. I personally think the Disciplinary Committee took a look at Eager as a ‘repeat offender’ and overreacted to send a message. And that message is, “We’re tired of dealing with these types of incidents. We want them to stop. And we’re going to make an example or Mr. Eager.”

That said, Why did Eager open his mouth? These comments of his shouldn’t have been made in the first place. And now, they are in print. I understand his frustration. Truly, I do. But there’s a time to remain silent, for his own benefit, in a disciplinary matter. Eager fired a few shots back at the league office. Think that’ll endear him any? He simply cannot say that Campbell wanted a quiet weekend, free from prying calls from the livid Toronto media. He cannot say that he didn’t deserve a suspension REGARDLESS if he’s a repeat offender. That’s not his decision to make. And the league is simply supposed to ignore his prior offenses? To be clear, it’s fine for Eager to FEEL that way. But he didn’t need to articulate that in a manner that finds its way into the media. Obviously, he knows that Thrasher fans would be upset by the decision. And maybe, even some of us have emailed Campbell’s office, seeking to voice our displeasure or clarification over what transpired. Like Ramsay said, “We don’t question the league. We just move on.” That’s the best course of action. Little late now, for Eager, however. The league office will just be looking to dish more against him, the next time. Oh well. Eager may not be a Thrasher next season anyway.

Alan R.

January 8th, 2011
10:53 pm

Eager fired a few shots back at the league office. Think that’ll endear him any? He simply cannot say that Campbell wanted a quiet weekend, free from prying calls from the livid Toronto media.

He can. He did. He said exactly what EVERY fan and player is thinking, when they see things like this. Especially us fans, who saw Lucic walk away scot free.

I 100% support his comments. You should too.

Eon Rodeo

January 9th, 2011
12:51 am

You’re right, he can say what he wants. He may even have a point. Still doesn’t make it smart.

Alan R.

January 9th, 2011
1:14 am

Well, he is a “meat head.” Does it really matter? As long as Colin Campbell is head of NHL officiating, that which he does will not be done with any sort of consistency or fairness.


January 9th, 2011
1:35 am

What you’ve stated is true.
It is also a thorough indictment of the attitudes that allowed the “hose-job” to occur.

It’s not just “Southern Markets”, and I damn well don’t “expect” inferior O-fficiating to be tolerated, and discipline to be applied capriciously.

THAT’S bad for the game we all love.


January 9th, 2011
5:17 am

It was not Eager’s best moment..but when I think of the past few seasons when it seemed the Thrashers were afraid to hit anybody..I can live with the occasional meldown by this years more physical club. For a long time Kovy was the only Thrasher who wasnt afraid to fight.

On another subject..does anyone see it happening that the Thrash spend some money and pick up a scorer before the trade deadline? Good God we need somebody.


January 9th, 2011
5:38 am

I’m happy someone on our team finally sent a message to the other team during a rout that if you cheap shot our team, we can do the same. I don’t know why so many people are bringing the axe down on Eager, I’m personally sick of having things like that always happen to our team. Eager should get a bonus from the Thrashers. And Kudos for saying what most of us feel to the league, it is a joke. It’s bias and unfair. Remember Cindy Crosby punching Valabik in the nards from behind? He can’t get suspended. Had Eager done that..he’d still be suspended. The Lucic incident has amplified this. Had he been suspended five games, I don’t think anyone would be complaining. Jody Shelley knocked a player out, dropped his gloves and nailed a guy. 2 games. Repeat offender also. Eager gets 4 by taking care of a player who had it coming. Eager could have really hurt him, c’mon now. Eager’s incident was much less than the others, it wasn’t even a full force swing with his gloves off, I don’t even think Army needed the patch, it was all show..just like Eager said. He is a phony and deserved more for trying to injure our players.

Putting On The Foil

January 9th, 2011
7:12 am

Personally, I like Eager and was glad to see someone get a little redemption for the Thrashers taking some cheap shots. As far as the timing and hurting the team, hell, the game was out of hand at that point. Eager said what alot of players are thinking to the league and probably knew that Ramsey was gonna sit him a few games anyway as he has all season. I’d also be PO’ed too after that cheesy double minor call in the first period. While Eager may not fit into the long term plans, he gets a pass from me just for taking up for Burmy a few times early in the season when some of the other teams tried to push Burmy around and discourage him from playing his all out game.


January 9th, 2011
8:26 am

Forget all the Crosby, Avery, others didn’t get punished stuff. Eager’s recent tirades put him in the “meat head” category. We are a free wheeling team that has to avoid stupid penalties to sustain momentum. Eager is showing that simple taunts from guys like Armstrong and others can set off his “hair trigger”. He’s not an asset to us right now, he’s a definite liability and I suspect that is one reason why he has spent so much time on the rails.

Daddy ball

January 9th, 2011
9:07 am

Daddy ball doesn’t stop at 12…..just ask Colin Campbell who should be suckered punch out of the NHL….
Now if Ramsay suspended him for letting his team down then that would make sense


January 9th, 2011
9:35 am

Just about everyone on here is focused on Eager’s length of suspension (and who cares about Colin Campbell). Come on Fellas. Anyone who has been watching all of the games can see that Ben Eager is a dumb hockey player. While he is a fast skater, he brings NOTHING else to the table. Dumb players cost you games just like the Toronto game. He has been taking stupid penalties all year. Eager’s double minor is what started the route with Toronto and it was a stupid penalty. Dudley should just waive him. Additionally, Mason needs to go as well. While he is a good guy, he has played awful. Does anyone else lose confidence when they hear that Mason is going to be in net?


January 9th, 2011
9:52 am

Keep in mind with the length of the suspension that Army didn’t play the rest of the game and the reports are that he has a scratched cornea. An injury sustained will up the suspension length.

Not that Campbell isn’t an inconsistent douche …

it's brendan again

January 9th, 2011
11:47 am

do you even like this team or do you just like talking down to strangers on the internet like you know everything?