November 13, 2010
Minnesota Wild defenseman Brent Burns(notes) was handed a 2-game suspension today from the NHL for this stick-to-the-face (video) of Steve Bernier(notes) of the Florida Panthers, which broke his orbital bone. Burns will lose $38,172.04 in salary, and was quite apologetic today in speaking with the media (via the Wild):
Money quote: "What I went through the last two years with injuries, I don't want to hurt anybody."
It's hard to malign a guy like Brent Burns when he's being this damn contrite, but the NHL has to show zero-tolerance for reckless play with one's stick.
Burns obviously didn't have the intent of Danny Briere(notes) of the Philadelphia Flyers, who earned three games for what he said was an inadvertent kabong-ing of Frans Nielsen(notes) of the New York Islanders; but that doesn't change the fact that he smacked a foe in the mug with his lumber during something other than the course of play.
As for Bernier, the Panthers made the following announcement this afternoon:
Florida Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon announced today RW Steve Bernier suffered an orbital fracture at the end of last night's game against the Minnesota Wild and is expected to have surgery in South Florida later this afternoon. Further information regarding the timetable for his recovery and return to the ice will be available next week.
Panthers beat writer George Richards of On Frozen Pond had this take last night:
Truth is, Bernier's injury could have been really serious (and for all I know, he has a fractured orbital bone and is out for a while). You can't pop a guy in the face with the base of your hockey stick. That's quite a weapon you have right there.
Burns may feel really, really bad about doing this and really, really bad about the pain he caused. He probably knows how dangerous that hit was. I don't think he'll pull that again.
Especially now that the NHL has had its say.