(UPDATE: The NHL has suspended Burns for 2 games for the incident.)
After the Florida Panthers' 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild tonight, Brent Burns(notes) took exception to a hip check from Steve Bernier(notes). As players were mixing things up, Bernier first took a punch to the face from the Minnesota defenseman and as the two tangled, the butt-end of Burns' stick hit Bernier in the face. At first, Bernier was enraged and had to be held back by an official, but then he began to feel the effects of the butt-end and eventually needed help off the ice at BankAtlantic Center as he left a pool of blood behind. Burns was given five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct.
Here's video featuring two different angles of the incident from the FSN Florida and Minnesota feeds:
After the game, George Richards of the Miami Herald reported that it's believed that Bernier suffered a broken cheekbone from the incident. He left the arena in an ambulance. Panthers defenseman Mike Weaver(notes) told Richards after the game, "It's disrespect for the game. Why do you need that? A player needs to respect another player."
In the other locker room, Burns talked to the Star-Tribune's Michael Russo about the incident:
"I don't know how it happened. I don't know," said Burns, not known for this type of act. "It happened. I said sorry. I just saw he was bleeding there. I didn't mean to do that. He just came at me, and I think it was my glove that got him. I don't know."
The Panthers flew to Philadelphia tonight for tomorrow night's game against the Flyers. Bernier was not on the flight up north according to Richards.
Now comes the question of supplementary discipline for Burns. We recently saw Los Angeles Kings forward Wayne Simmonds(notes) go unpunished for his butt-end to the [Gretzky's] of Colorado's T.J. Galiardi(notes) for the lack of an injury. Same with Derek Boogaard(notes) on Chris Neil(notes) from last month. The fact that Bernier could miss significant time with a facial injury does not bode well for Burns' chances when Colin Campbell spins the Wheel of Justice sometime on Saturday.