Early in the day on Monday morning Danny Briere
had a conference call with the NHL offices and the result was a three-game suspension handed down.
Briere sat out last night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes and will subsequently sit out Thursday’s game vs. the New York Rangers and Saturday’s game against, of all teams, the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
“More shocked. I think surprised is not strong enough,” said Briere. “Honestly, I’m shocked. I honestly didn’t think I would get more than, after everything else, all of the suspensions that have been handed out the last couple of years and this year, honestly, I didn’t think I was going to get a game. Then I thought, ok yes I am a repeat offender, they’ll probably give me a game because of it. I’m shocked that it was more than a game.”
|At the time of his suspension, Briere was tied for the team lead in goals (6) and had eight points in 11 games. |
Briere continued that his intentions were clear on the play to simply protect himself and that the video replay showed that, despite admitting that he did, in error, get his stick high up in the air.
“I explained the situation,” said Briere on the call with Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations for the NHL Colin Campbell. “I explained that he challenged me, and that I wanted to defend myself, protect myself. I told him that I understood that my stick shouldn’t have been up there. But honestly, I don’t think that… [the explanation] didn’t amount to anything. I think his mind was made up before he rang, because anything I said was, obviously, not taken into consideration.”
After much chatter on the ice between the two clubs and seeing hits to teammates Andrej Meszaros
and Andreas Nodl, Briere suspected the same from a frustrated Islanders team with the game having already been decided.
“After what he said on the faceoff, all I was thinking was I got to protect myself, after what happened to [Andrej] Meszaros, what happened with Trevor Gilles on [Braydon] Coburn. I said, ‘I got to protect myself’, and if you see the faceoff before, he gets me in a headlock and punches me behind the head, the same player.”
The incident occurred at the 19 minute mark just after a faceoff at the right circle, where Briere received a five minute major for cross-checking and as a result a 10-minute game misconduct.
“What I’m disappointed in is the fact they tried to spin it as a crosscheck to the head,” added Briere. “If you look at the replay, it’s clearly not a crosscheck. A crosscheck is two hands moving forward. It’s a push with one hand. The mistake I made was that my stick was up there. Is it worth 3 games for that? I don’t think so.”
On top of it, I missed him. I didn’t even get him. I understand that that made it look worse; on the play everybody thought it was me. But if you look at the replay, it’s my glove that kind of grazes over his helmet. My stick doesn’t touch him.”
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren weighed in on the NHL’s decision as well.
“Well, I’m not happy to lose a player like Danny for three games but it’s just part of the process we have to go through and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it right now,” said Holmgren, who because of Briere’s history was not as surprised.
The Flyers managed to play good hockey and get by a strong Carolina Hurricanes team by a score of 3-2, however the task remained an unwelcome one by Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette who was forced to shuffle the lines yet again because of the suspension.
“Danny’s a big part of it,” said Laviolette of his offense. “He plays in all situations for us. He was playing well, that line has been clicking. It had taken a little bit for that line to get going, so him coming out for three game things will be different.”
We were hoping for none, but that’s what it is, so Danny’s gone for three games. We’ll miss him. He was playing very well.”
Perhaps of greater concern to Briere as well as the League office is of the sensitive nature of blows to the head and attempts around the head. The NHL’s new headshot rule certainly played a factor in handing down the suspension.
“There are guys whose careers are in danger for bad hits to the head,” added Briere. “[Chicago Blackhawks’ defensemen Niklas] Hjalmarsson gets two games, and we don’t even know what is going to happen to [Buffalo Sabres’ winger Jason] Pominville. Only two games for that. And then you have [Pittsburgh forward Matt] Cooke on [Boston Bruins’ center Marc] Savard. Savard has already lost a big amount of time. That’s why I was shocked that it was more than a game.”
Briere’s teammate, Scott Hartnell
, is one of the players affected by the suspension as well.
“Well Danny [Briere] caught a tough break with his suspension,” said Hartnell. “It was really unfortunate for him. We miss him. Obviously he’s been a big part of our team so far this year.”
But as anybody, including Briere would agree, it still doesn’t change the fact that you have to come out and play good, tough hockey to win games while a mand down like they did last night at the Wells Fargo Center.