NHL executives are accustomed to complaints from organizations whose players get suspended, so it didn’t faze them when the Senators questioned the severity of the discipline they slapped Monday on Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery. What did irk them, however, was public second-guessing of the suspension by, of all people, the coach of the Montreal Canadiens.

Emery got three games for sticking it to Habs forward Maxim Lapierre, prompting predictable protests from the Sens. But Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau stunned the NHL with this remark: “One game would have been enough for me.”

“Guy’s lost credibility with us,” an NHL exec told me yesterday. “He complained to us that Emery purposely tried to injure Lapierre. We concurred. Then we do something about it with the hope of delivering a message. The last thing we expected was second-guessing on the number of games from Guy. We were blind-sided by him and we won’t forget it.”


•As the Blue Jays open training camp in Florida, they remain in pursuit of pitchers, offering outfielder Alex Rios to the Marlins for youngster Scott Olson. Florida’s not interested … The brother of new Jays pitcher Victor Zambrano has told the Cubs that he’ll become a free agent after the season if they don’t offer him a new deal for megabucks soon. Carlos Zambrano wants Barry Zito-type money — $18-million US or so a year … Forgive Charlie Manuel if he’s looking over his shoulder. He’s already hearing rumblings that he’ll be replaced as Philadelphia’s manager by the Phillies’ new bench coach, Jimy Williams, if the team starts slowly … Detroit reliever Joel Zumaya is still playing Guitar Hero, the video game the Tigers believe caused him forearm problems late last season. Zumaya claims he can’t kick the habit. The Tigers, however, will officially order their players this week to refrain from playing video games. Look for the MLB players’ union to get involved.

Michael Jordan turns 44 on Saturday and there’s a wild party planned for him in Las Vegas … The NBA has rescinded a technical foul called the other night against the Pistons’ Rasheed Wallace, who was schooling the Raptors’ Chris Bosh. The league decided the ref was too hasty, so Wallace’s technical-foul count remains 14, two shy of earning him a one-game suspension … Criticism of the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby is downright ludicrous. The Kid’s the NHL’s greatest asset these days. Period … Nashville is the probable destination for Peter Forsberg, who’ll soon be dealt by Philadelphia.