Work in Sports
'Opens up a can of worms'
Bruins teammates unhappy with McSorley decision
BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) -- Some players on the Boston Bruins wonder who might be prosecuted next.
"It's a little discouraging that a court of law has stepped in. It opens up a can of worms," said defenseman Don Sweeney, speculating a major league pitcher might now be vulnerable for throwing at a batter.
Sweeney spoke Friday after learning Marty McSorley was found guilty of assault with a weapon but will not go to jail. The NHL enforcer smashed an opponent's head with his stick.
McSorley has said he did not mean to hit Vancouver Canucks forward Donald Brashear in the head during the game February 21 between Boston and Vancouver. He said he wanted only to provoke him into a fight.
But the blow sent Brashear to the ice with such force that his helmet came off. He was temporarily unconscious and sustained a concussion.
A Canadian judge on Friday determined McSorley aimed for Brashear's head and sentenced him to 18 months of probation. The NHL had suspended McSorley for 23 games.
"It's something that's happened in the heat of the action and it should be dealt with on the ice, not in a courtroom," Bruins left wing Joe Hulbig said Friday as he prepared to fly with his teammates to Philadelphia for Saturday's game.
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.
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," he said, citing players who jab their sticks to the back of other players' necks when referees aren't watching.
"The NHL did a good job of policing itself," McLaren said. "Now it's going off-ice. It's sort of crossing some bounds here."
"The National Hockey League came down extremely hard on Marty McSorley and justifiably so," he said. "But maybe that's where it should have been left."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman never wanted the matter in court. He said Friday the hit by McSorley was "not representative of NHL hockey or NHL players" and the ruling "does not alter our position that we will continue to punish severely acts of inappropriate conduct in our game."
Bob Goodenow, the executive director of the NHL Players' Association, said the judge sent a message when he said that "having to live with the stigma of the trial was punishment enough" for McSorley.
"I'm certain that, notwithstanding Marty's rights to consider an appeal, both individuals want to put the matter behind them and move forward," he said.
Former NHL goaltender Chico Resch thinks no player in the NHL will be happy with the verdict.
"The reverberations are going to be that you're going to see a lot of tentativeness among players when it comes to physical play," he told The Fan 590, an all-sports radio station in Toronto.
However, Maple Leafs forward Shayne Corson said the ruling is "not going to change the way I play at all."
McSorley was a defenseman this past season with the Bruins. He was suspended by the NHL for the rest of the season after the hit and is an unrestricted free agent.
McSorley has played for six NHL teams through his 17 seasons. Before he can play again, he must be reinstated by Bettman.