Work in Sports
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Ticker) -- Marty McSorley made Dale Hunter look like a saint.
With three seconds left and the outcome already decided, Bruins defenseman Marty McSorley slashed Canucks enforcer Donald Brashear in the side of the head as retaliation for an injury to former All-Star goaltender Byron Dafoe.
Brashear immediately fell backward to the ice and slammed his head, knocking himself unconscious for 30 seconds. Canucks captain Mark Messier immediately jumped on the ice with the team's trainer to tend to Brashear.
"It was a dangerous play," said Messier, a former teammate of McSorley's. "Donald's hurt, we can't allow that to happen in the league. I don't know what else to say. That really deflates everything that happened tonight and everything else that's gone on in the last little while.
"It's really tough. Everybody knows it's a dangerous game and we all know injuries can happen. But, something like that takes the air out of the game. What else can you say?" Following the game, McSorley was cleary shaken and nearly driven to tears when he issued this statement to a local radio station: "I want to apologize to the city of Vancouver, to Donald Brashear," McSorley said. "I don't know what was going through my mind at that time. It was a stupid mistake."
At the other end of the ice, goalie Garth Snow went after McSorley, setting off a brawl. Fans littered the ice hoping to hit anybody on Boston. Other fans were being handcuffed by police after starting fights in the stands with people who had on Bruins jerseys. Once things were settled, referee Brad Watson ended the game without playing the final three seconds.
"I just saw Brash down," Snow said. "Seeing him down like that, I knew it was a cheap shot because no one could do that straight up with him. I haven't seen anything like that since the Ted Green incident, it's just bad."
Brashear was motionless before being placed in a neck brace and carted off while surrounded by teammates, who each tapped his equipmemt wishing him well. Brashear apparently came to on his way to the hospital.
"The doctors are looking at him," Canucks coach Mark Crawford said. "Obviously, he is suffering, but he is in the hands of the best medical care. It makes me sick to my stomach, that's exactly how I feel. It's sickening to me, it's sickening to anybody to see this kind of thing. There's no other words to describe it. There is absolutely no room for this, no place in hockey. It was a dispicable act."
McSorley, who began the night third to Dave "Tiger" Williams and Hunter with 3,352 career penalty minutes, was given a match penalty for deliberate injury. The penalty comes with an automatic review for suspension.
Brashear and McSorley battled early in the contest, drawing fighting majors 2:09 into the first period.
"It started very poorly," Bruins coach Pat Burns said. "They were all over us, it was a nightmare. We have enough players that went down in this game. All I recall is Donald coming over flexing his muscles at our bench and it probably irked something or someone on our bench."
McSorley's ban could rival that of Hunter, who received a 21-game suspension -- the longest for an on-ice incident in NHL history -- at the beginning of the 1993-94 season after delivering a callous blow to Pierre Turgeon of the New York Islanders in the 1993 playoffs.
McSorley's action may have stemmed from an incident in the first period when Brashear charged to the net and fell on Dafoe's right leg. Dafoe left the ice on a stretcher and was not optimistic about the injury.
"I just got kind of tangled with (defenseman Kyle) McLaren and Brashear," Dafoe said. "My knee went a funny way. My cartilage might have been flapping and it flipped up and locked up on me. I felt it right away. When it locks, it feels like it's going to tear if you move it either way."
The terrible incidents mirror the Bruins struggles. They are winless in five straight (0-3-2), 2-6-3 in their last 11 games and five points behind Buffalo for eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Canucks have won three straight games for the first time since the start of the season. They are unbeaten in five games against Boston since a 2-0 loss on October 17, 1997.
Matt Cooke scored the eventual game-winner 4:48 into the first and Bertuzzi capped the four-goal period with his first of the game as the Canucks built a 4-0 lead.
"When you get your chances, you have got to capitalize on it. Tonight, I was fortunate enough to capitalize on them," Bertuzzi said. "Everybody is playing well, we are on a roll right now and we've got to keep it going."
Garth Snow stopped 21 shots for the Canucks, who won for just the third time in their last seven games at GM Place.
After defenseman Greg Hawgood tallied to make the score 2-0 just 2:29 into the contest, coach Pat Burns pulled Dafoe after stopping two shots. Burns then yanked backup John Grahame after he allowed the goals to Cooke and Bertuzzi.
Sergei Samsonov tallied early into the second period to make it 4-1, but Bertuzzi added his second goal of the night when he roofed a shot over the glove of Grahame, giving the Canucks a 5-1 lead with 9:15 remaining in the period.
Future Hall-of-Famer Ray Bourque scored the only goal of the third period with 3:26 to go, but his tally was far from his mind.
"It's the first time I've witnessed something like that," Bourque said. "It's not fun, they battled all night. You have to ask Marty if he had a reason. I don't want to be a part of that. It's tough to watch. You can't justify an act like that, it's not a good night if you're a hockey player tonight."
Vancouver also received a double shot of bad news. In addition to Brashear's head injury, Bertuzzi left the game with a dislocated thumb. His status is day-to-day.