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Heinze testifies that head hits are common
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - A former teammate of Marty McSorley's testified Thursday that hits to the head are a "common occurrence" in hockey.
"You always get your bell rung a few times a season," said Steve Heinze. "Pinpoint accuracy is not something that occurs as a guy is flying by you. You can only aim for a spot."
Heinze, who testified at McSorley's assault trial, was in the Boston Bruins' game at Vancouver last February when his teammate swung his stick with both hands and clubbed Donald Brashear of the Canucks in the head.
Heinze, who testified he didn't see the hit, said slashing to the hands and legs is also commonplace.
"They're used all over the body to affect people's play," he said.
Heinze's testimony was intended to support McSorley's contention that he intended only to hit Brashear in the upper shoulder.
McSorley testified Wednesday that shoulder and wrist injuries suffered three weeks earlier may have hampered his ability to land his stick where he intended.
The hit sent Brashear crashing to the ice, and he suffered a serious concussion.
This is the first time in 12 years that an NHL player has been in court after being charged in an on-ice incident.
McSorley has spent more than 60 hours in the penalty box during his 17 years in the NHL. He has the third highest number of penalty minutes in league history.
After the Brashear hit, he was suspended for the remaining 23 games of the Bruins season, which cost him more than $100,000, and he must meet with the NHL commissioner before returning to play.
But as an unsigned, unrestricted free agent and at age 37, it's not certain he ever will.