It happened in a split second on Saturday night, but the reverberations were felt in the far corners of the hockey world.

David Booth's head is probably still feeling them.

That's what happens when a questionable hit is made in a physical game with 200-pound players hurling themselves at each other at speeds the same as cars driving on local roads.

The blogosphere and Twitter lit up just minutes after Flyers captain Mike Richards blindsided Florida's Booth with 2:55 remaining in the second period of what would become a 5-1 win for the Flyers.

Richards skated across the Flyers' zone and leveled Booth after he dished the puck to a teammate. Booth was sent flying in another direction, his face scraping the ice on the way down.

Booth laid motionless on the ice before he was carted off on a stretcher. A pool of Booth's blood was left on the ice. He was taken to Pennsylvania Hospital, where he was kept overnight; he was released yesterday. He suffered a concussion but no other serious injuries.

Many fans, just hours after hearing that Carolina's Tuomo Ruutu was suspended three games for a check to the head of Colorado's Darcy Tucker, were calling for the same verdict for Richards.

Others, saying Richards never left his feet and kept his arms down, barked that Richards shouldn't receive any supplementary discipline by the NHL.

As first reported by the Daily News, the league's hockey operations department reviewed the hit - which resulted in a 5-minute major and game misconduct - and decided not to suspend or fine Richards.

The hit was examined by Mike Murphy, the NHL's hockey operations director, instead of Colin Campbell, the league's usual dean of discipline. Campbell wanted to avoid any perceived bias because his son, Gregory, plays for the Panthers.

For the Flyers captain, no news yesterday was good news. He played last night against San Jose.

"I was preparing for a hockey game since [Saturday] night,'' Richards said. "I didn't hear anything and I just continued to prepare.

"The league ruled it was a clean hit. I thought it was a clean hit. The end result was something that you don't hope for, but nothing came of it, it was a clean hit."

Richards played his junior hockey under Florida's coach, Pete DeBoer, in Kitchener, of the Ontario Hockey League. He called DeBoer yesterday to send his regards to Booth and wish him a speedy recovery.

The Flyers stood by Richards' hit from the moment it happened, while Florida general manager Randy Sexton called the hit "dirty" and "late."

"It was a bang-bang play," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "Those plays are dangerous when you get the puck in the middle of the ice. It was one of those plays that happened quickly and unfortunately, he got hurt.

"I think when you pull away from the emotion of the game and you look at it . . . his elbow was tucked and he stayed on his feet."

Reached by the Sun-Sentinel, of South Florida, Booth's father, Mike, said his son doesn't remember anything about the hit.

Booth is expected to miss at least the next three games, and possibly longer.

Bartulis called up

The Flyers recalled defenseman Oskars Bartulis from Adirondack, but did not insert him into the lineup for last night's game.

John Stevens said that more than one of the team's six defensemen were "banged up" in Saturday's 5-1 win over Florida. The defense corps already was missing Ryan Parent (groin strain), who is hoping to return this week.

"[Bartulis] was brought up as a precaution,'' Stevens said. "We had one defenseman in particular that was in question, but a few guys are banged up. We just wanted to make sure."

Bartulis, who has three points in eight games with the Phantoms, earned approximately $2,675 for his commute to Philadelphia. A good skater, Bartulis caught Stevens' eye during training camp.

Like father, like son

The Flyers' fathers were in town yesterday as part of the annual father-son bonding trip. The dads also will travel to Washington to see their sons take on the Capitals tomorrow night.

Kick saves

John Stevens said he was pleased with his line combinations in Saturday's game and left them unchanged for San Jose . . . The Phantoms will be returning to Philadelphia on Friday, Dec. 4 (7 p.m.) for the first time since moving to Glens Falls, N.Y., after last season. They will take on the Norfolk Admirals in a one-time event at the Wachovia Center. Kids tickets are $10 and adult tickets are $14, $18 and $19 . . . Thousands of fans strolled through the Spectrum one last time on Saturday, walking through the concourses and locker rooms as a final farewell. The building will close for good after Saturday's Pearl Jam concert.

For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at http://go.philly.com/frequentflyers.