56° Good Afternoon
56° Good Afternoon

Islanders' Sutton won't change his physical style

Andy Sutton is back, and the 6-6 Islanders defenseman said his two-game suspension for a powerful hit on Penguins wing Pascal Dupuis last week will not alter his physical play.

After a note of contrition, saying the hit was "super-unfortunate. I really feel bad about it," he said Mondaythat the suspension is not "going to change anything for me. I'm going to play hard . . . You can't think about that. With the style I play, I have to keep going out and focusing on being physical."

Sutton drove Dupuis' head into the boards behind the Islanders' net, leaving him bleeding profusely and with a black eye. Dupuis, a former teammate of Sutton, returned to the Penguins' lineup two days ago.

Sutton's style has the full backing of the Islanders, starting with general manger Garth Snow. "I spoke to Garth a little bit about it," Sutton said. "He expressed a desire for me to go out and keep playing physical, not to let it change things. It's always good to get someone on your side. Snowy did that for me."

Coach Scott Gordon added: "That was a situation thing where [Dupuis] tried to play it like he had more time than he did . . . If the guy keeps going, it's a non-issue. He came back, all of a sudden, [Sutton] is in the middle of finishing a hit that he can't pull off of. That's kind of a unique situation.

"If you are a physical player, I don't think that changes anything for you. He didn't go with the intention of trying to run him from behind, he just got caught in between, and that can happen anytime."

Sutton did not question the NHL's punishment. "They have their policies and their way of doing things and they have their precedents that they have to pay attention to," he said. "I just go out and play hard and they are trying to do the best job they can and try to be fair. They certainly don't want to suspend us if they don't feel they have to . . . You can never please everyone when it comes to a suspension. You play the game hard and stuff happens sometimes. You try to move on, move forward."

Sutton is back just in time for tonight's home game against the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin, who has 70 points. How will he approach him? "Same as any other top player," Sutton said. "You have to try to collectively take away their time and space, keep them to the outside and keep them off the power play."

New York Sports