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Hartnell: Hit Was Unintentional

by Kevin Kurz / Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers winger suspended two games for checking Boston’s Alberts

Hatcher and Hartnell talk about Hartnell's hit on Boston's Alberts: FlyersTV
Hartnell talks to WIP's Tim Saunders about his suspension: 56K (Audio)

(Voorhees, NJ) – A day after the Flyers’ Scott Hartnell hit Boston’s Andrew Alberts, forcing Alberts to leave the 6-3 Bruins win at the Wachovia Center on Monday, Hartnell maintained that he was only trying to finish his check late in the second period.

Unfortunately, a player was hurt as a result of the hit, and now Hartnell must sit out for the next two games in Carolina on Wednesday and against Dallas on Saturday following a decision from NHL Senior V.P. and Director of Hockey Operations, Colin Campbell.

Hartnell maintained he was only trying to play his style of game.

“If you look at the video and the time of the game, I wasn’t trying to hurt the guy,” he said. “I pulled up and did just try to rub into the guy, but his head was right on that dasher board there. It was unfortunate. It was a split decision to make a play, and unfortunately he was down.”

Alberts, a 6’5’’, 218-pound defenseman, awkwardly went down along the boards to try and play a bouncing puck in the second period. Hartnell, himself no midget at 6’2’’ and 210 pounds, was simply try to make contact with Alberts to try and force a turnover.
The Flyers' Scott Hartnell hits Boston's Andrew Alberts in the second period of a game at the Wachovia Center on November 26. (Getty Images)

“The puck just looked like it was bouncing, and normally you would take it with your foot or your hand, but he just chose to drop down in front of it,” said Flyers Head Coach John Stevens of Alberts’ unconventional maneuver. “All of a sudden a player goes from his feet to his knees.

“In Scott’s case last night, he’s probably five or eight feet away to go make contact and the guy drops to his knees. It looked like [Hartnell’s] skates were turned and he tried to let up, but he didn’t totally let up.

“I think his whole idea was to go get the puck back, and if you’re going to defend at all, you’ve got to be able to use body position and make physical contact to get the puck back.”

The hit comes on the heels of an incident in the last Flyers-Bruins game on October 27, when Philadelphia’s Randy Jones was suspended for two games for hitting Boston’s Patrice Bergeron from behind. Bergeron is still out with a concussion, and does not appear close to returning.

As was the case with that incident, the question again is, did the Boston player put himself in a vulnerable position to get hurt?

“I have two sons, and I better knock on wood, but I tell them all the time, do not put yourself in those situations,” said Derian Hatcher. “I think Don Cherry said it best a couple weeks ago, in that the player with the puck has just as much responsibility as the player coming to hit him. If you put yourself in situations where you can get hurt, you’re going to get hurt.”

Hartnell himself has been on the receiving end of painful hits, and said that twice he has suffered concussions in which he had to leave the ice in a stretcher.

“I’ve been concussed twice where I’ve been carried off in a stretcher, and I guess you could say that was my fault, too,” he said. “I had my head down, and at one time I got ran into a partition. You just have to protect yourself in situations like that.”

Regardless of the suspension, Hartnell has no apologies for the way he plays the game.

“You can’t worry about repercussions when you’re finishing a check like that. Obviously, looking back on it, I guess I could have skated away and not finished my check, but that’s part of my game. Everyone in here finishes their check every time you’re out there. All of that kind of stuff wears on the other team and gives your team an advantage.”

No matter the hits and resulting suspensions that the Flyers have had to endure this season, the players will not change the way they play the game. Stevens and captain Jason Smith clearly want the club to continue with its physical style.

“You have to realize that incidents happen in the game,” said Smith. “It’s a part of the game and something our team has to deal with, but we have to move forward and just go out and play.”

Kimmo Timonen did not skate, but accompanied the team to Carolina and may play Wednesday. He left Monday’s game with a lower body injury and did not return … Hatcher, who had right knee surgery on November 1, skated with the team and is questionable for Wednesday night. … 17 of the Flyers players’ fathers went on the charter to Carolina and will be in attendance for Wednesday’s game.
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