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CNNSI.com's Sonja Steptoe and Vancouver criminal defense attorney Michael Bolton |
Sports Illustrated NHL editor Paul Fichtenbaum |
|SI's Michael Farber
|Clearly, the sight of McSorley in a prison jumpsuit would have brought home the point more strongly, but I think the guilty verdict underscores the fact that if the league doesn't police itself better -- and the league is trying to -- the court reserves the right to step in. The verdict is probably more important than the punishment. I think the implications of the verdict are more important than the implications of the punishment.
Although if you're taking it at face value, you can see the mixed message there.
Click here for a Q&A with Farber.
|Lawyer Paul Kelly
|McSorley does believe that the trial was fairly conducted, but he is quite concerned about the result. He is happy that he is not going to be convicted, and he has no conviction as we stand here today, but at this point, it is his intention to appeal.
Click here for a Q&A with Kelly.
Brashear, whose Canucks played Florida on Friday, issued a statement.
"The court in Vancouver has made its decision and it's time to move on now," Brashear said. "I'd like to thank everyone for their support, especially my family and my teammates. It's time to concentrate on the season."
The trial was the first for an on-ice attack by an NHL player since Dino Ciccarelli, then with the Minnesota North Stars, was sentenced in 1988. He received one day in jail and a $1,000 fine for hitting Toronto's Luke Richardson with his stick.
The 37-year-old McSorley, one of the league's most notorious enforcers, testified he tried to hit Brashear in the shoulder to provoke him into fighting and didn't mean to hit his head.
But Judge William Kitchen disagreed, saying "Brashear was struck as intended."
McSorley "slashed for the head. A child, swinging as at a tee-ball, would not miss. A housekeeper swinging a carpet-beater would not miss. An NHL player would never, ever miss," Kitchen said.
The hit came with three seconds left in the game between the Bruins and Canucks.
Brashear's head hit the ice. He briefly lost consciousness, and had a concussion and memory lapses. He returned to play after several weeks and has fully recovered.
Brashear testified he has no memory of what happened.
Bill Smart, McSorley's lawyer, argued that NHL players give "explicit consent" to the risk of on-ice contact.
Bruins defenseman Kyle McLaren called the verdict 'shocking.'
"It happens in games. It happens all the time. There's other stuff that's probably worse than that," McLaren said.
"The NHL did a good job of policing itself. Now it's going off-ice. It's sort of crossing some bounds here."
Brashear, a left wing who had 11 goals and 136 penalty minutes in 60 games this past season, re-signed with the Canucks on September 19. Vancouver opened its season Thursday at Philadelphia.
The weeklong trial included evidence from McSorley and Brashear, on-ice officials, Canucks coach Marc Crawford, New York Rangers executive Glen Sather and others.
Even Wayne Gretzky made a cameo appearance. He did not testify, but sat in the courtroom in support of McSorley, his friend and once his protector on the ice.
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