CALGARY, AB -- On Tuesday morning, Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque addressed the media about his two-game suspension for his hit on Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook on Sunday night.
"The important thing for me is that Seabs is alright," the Lac La Biche native said. "He knows that I didn't mean to hurt him. He got caught in a vunerable position. There was nothing I could really do about it last second, when he got tangled up up with the ref. I'm just happy that he is going to be alright."
Seabrook was chasing a puck that had been rimmed around the boards when Bourque came in to make the hit. The blueliner's stick and the puck got caught up in a referee's skates, forcing him to full pull up, and when Bourque hit him, he went head first into the boards.
"Honestly, I thought the ref was a big part of it," Bourque admitted. "Especially right before I hit him. He does get tangled up and he does turn towards the boards. I thought that would have a bigger role in the decision. Unfortunately, it didn't."
NHL chief of player safety Brendan Shannahan did not feel the same way about the referee's involvement, stating Bourque should have let up when he saw Seabrook become entangled with the official.
"The onus is on Bourque to avoid this hit completely, or at the very least minimize it when he sees an opponent in the vulnerable position on the boards," Shanahan said in his video review of the hit. "Not only does Bourque pursue Seabrook for several feet, he fails to minimize this dangerous play to an acceptable degree.
"Seabrook is neither falling, nor turning to any degree that would absolve Bourque of responsibility."
Flames general manager Jay Feaster issued a statement on Tuesday morning that came to the defence of the winger.
"While we respectfully disagree with the League’s interpretation of the hit, we nonetheless recognize that Brendan Shanahan has issued his ruling and both the Flames and Rene Bourque will abide by his decision.
"Our sole focus is on preparing for tonight’s game, while Rene will spend the next few days getting ready to step back into the line-up on Friday night in Vancouver in another important Northwest Division contest."
This is the first suspension for Bourque in his seven year career in the NHL.