ST. PAUL, Minn. - Fresh off a 20-game suspension, Flyers forward
made his NHL debut last night against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.
"It's a lot of nerves," said the 20-year-old forward. "You can't hide them. You just have to focus on the game and helping the team win."
Players often say it is easier to make your debut on the road.
"I don't think so, and it doesn't matter to me," Downie said. "Once the puck drops, and the game starts, it's time to play. I just want to play my game, keep it simple and win a lot of battles."
The NHL put the Flyers on notice this week: The league does not want to see the team accrue any more suspensions. In September, Downie became the first of five Flyers to be suspended after his flying check in a preseason game left Ottawa's
with a concussion.
The Flyers called Downie up to replace the suspended
, which seems to be a bold move on general manager
part, given the climate around the team.
"Downie was on the team to start with, and what [the Flyers] are saying is they don't want the kid to feel punished," said
, the Wild's GM. "Is that a slap at the league? No, they're saying to the kid, 'You got suspended, we don't necessarily condone it, but we like the way you play. But don't do that again because you can't afford it.'
"Hey, I would do it, too. The kid has a good future. He made a mistake."
Downie played on
were healthy scratches.
- Tim Panaccio