O'Neill went on to warn other players that "when excessive measures are used in fouling an opponent, they can expect severe penalties."
Although Flyers general manager Russ Farwell did not attend the game at the Capital Centre in which the incident occurred, he said yesterday that he had reviewed the hit on tape and that he agreed with Holmgren that Hunter deserved more than the five-minute charging penalty he received from referee Don Koharski.
"This decision showed that the league regarded Hunter's hit as a deliberate attempt to injure and that it was something that the league could not put up with," Farwell said. "I can't say that we're happy or satisfied. But it was something that the game needed to address, so we're satisfied in that regard."
Hunter charged Murphy into the boards behind the Flyers' net 5 minutes, 10 seconds into the third period and threw an elbow into the defenseman's face. Murphy was not seriously injured, and he returned to action later in the period. But the hit sparked a later brawl that resulted in 10 penalties and much unpleasantness between the teams. In all, Koharski handed out 294 penalty minutes, a Cap Centre record.
The Flyers visit the Cap Centre again on March 16.
The Flyers had a 20-minute workout yesterday, and afterward, Holmgren said he was still undecided whether Ken Wregget or Ron Hextall would be in goal for today's game (Channel 57, 7:35 p.m.) at Nassau Coliseum against the Islanders.
Holmgren said that his plan of playing the hot goalie has been disrupted
because neither Hextall nor Wregget played well in his last outing. Wregget misplayed the puck on a sequence that led to the New York Rangers gaining a 4-4 tie on Thursday, and Hextall allowed a bad goal 21 seconds into last Saturday's 3-2 loss to New Jersey.
Holmgren said it is possible that the two will split the home-and-home series with the Islanders that begins today. The two teams play again tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. at the Spectrum.
Although they lost to St. Louis by five goals on Thursday and still reside in the Patrick Division cellar, the Islanders (21-33-8) are a dangerous club. Center Pat LaFontaine, in the midst of a contract squabble, has asked to be traded, but he certainly hasn't lost his scoring touch. LaFontaine has 34 goals and 37 assists to lead the Isles, and Dave Volek, Brent Sutter and Patrick Flatley also have played well. Glenn Healy has played most of the games in goal.
"They're playing for their lives," Flyers center Ron Sutter said. "We've got to be prepared. They're fighting for a playoff spot. They're not going to
quit because they've got some good character guys on their team."
Rookie center Mike Ricci is expected to rejoin the Flyers today, so Craig Fisher has been sent back to Hershey of the American Hockey League. Fisher filled in for Ricci on Thursday night after Ricci had returned home to Scarborough, Ontario, to be with his ailing father. . . . Holmgren said that defenseman Jeff Chychrun probably will be able to play Tuesday when the Flyers play the North Stars in Minnesota. Chychrun has not played since Nov. 23, when he broke his left wrist. . . . Right winger Tim Kerr, out since Feb. 6 with a groin pull, is scheduled to resume skating on Monday. . . . Forward Murray Craven did not practice yesterday because he suffered a slight groin pull on his first shift Thursday night, but Holmgren said he expected Craven to be able to play today. . . . Defenseman Mark Howe, who skated with the team Wednesday for the first time since his Jan. 18 back operation, reported some soreness and has not skated with the team since.