Work in Sports
Facing 18 months
McSorley to be charged with assault in B.C.
Posted: Wednesday March 08, 2000 02:20 AM
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -- Marty McSorley now faces an assault charge for his stick attack on Vancouver's Donald Brashear, authorities announced Tuesday.
The Boston Bruins defenseman -- one of the league's tough guys - was charged with one count of assault with a weapon for his Feb. 21 attack. He plans to plead innocent, his lawyer said.
McSorley, who will not have to appear at the hearing, would face a maximum of 18 months in jail if convicted.
"I'm disappointed," McSorley said. "I'm disappointed it's going to court because I don't know if anybody really knows right now how much I've already lost."
"I've been in contact with a very good lawyer in Vancouver and we were trying to not have it go to court," McSorley said. His suspension already will cost him an estimated $72,000 in salary.
His Vancouver lawyer, Bill Smart, said he hopes for a trial date in late summer or early fall. There is a preliminary hearing scheduled for April 4, which McSorley would not have to attend.
Geoff Gaul, a spokesman for the British Columbia criminal justice branch, said the decision to charge McSorley was made after a prosecutor's review and a police investigation.
The NHL said it does not agree with the move, but said it will fully cooperate with Canadian authorities.
"We believe the league dealt with the matter quickly, decisively and appropriately -- and did not feel that any further action was either warranted or necessary," said Bill Daly, the NHL's chief legal officer.
Bruins president and general manager Harry Sinden also expressed disappointment that the courts were getting involved.
"The National Hockey League has handed down a severe discipline in this case and we feel that was sufficient," he said, adding that the team would also cooperate fully.
McSorley and Brashear, another NHL tough guy, had fought earlier in the game, and McSorley said he was trying to goad Brashear into another fight at the end of the game, a 5-2 victory by the Canucks.
"I had absolutely no intention of hurting Donald Brashear with my hockey stick," McSorley said. "I wanted a confrontation with Donald Brasher, no different than I've done on so many other nights. ... It just went badly."
McSorley has lasted 17 years in the league because of his ability to fight and protect his more skilled teammates. He had six previous suspensions in his career.
He is best known for serving as Wayne Gretzky's protector with the Edmonton Oilers and then with Los Angeles as the two were traded together in one of hockey's biggest deals.
McSorley said he has received calls of support from players in the league and Hall of Famers - "numerous tough guys" -- who say they understand what happened and offered to speak on his behalf.
He told them to stay out of it because he didn't want attention drawn away from the game.
"That's one thing I really feel bad about is the fact the game doesn't need a black eye -- and I don't want to be the cause of it," he said.
It took police just over a week to investigate the slash, which was witnessed by thousands of fans at the game and shown repeatedly on TV highlight clips.
"There's a lot more involved in this than just that second and a half or two seconds that the video shows," McSorley said. "I think he embarrassed me. You definitely want a rematch. You have to stand up for yourself. Our bench was challenged. Our team was challenged."
Police have gotten involved in several previous on-ice conflicts in the NHL.
In 1970, Wayne Make of the St. Louis Blues and Ted Green of Boston were the first NHL players taken to court after a stick-swinging duel at a September 1969 preseason game. Green, who fractured his skull, and Maki, who was not injured, were acquitted of assault charges.
In 1975, Dave Forbes of the Boston Bruins went to trial, accused of using excessive force against Henry Boucha of the Minnesota North Stars. The trial ended in a hung jury and the prosecution did not seek a retrial.
In the most recent, Minnesota's Dino Ciccarelli was sentenced to one day in jail and fined $1,000 in 1988 for striking Toronto's Luke Richardson several times in the head with his stick.