November 01, 2010
The NHL suspended Danny Briere(notes) of the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday for three games for "cross-checking" Frans Nielsen(notes) of the New York Islanders on Saturday night. Except Briere doesn't believe it was a cross-check at all, telling CSN Philly that he was "shocked" by the suspension:
"I made a mistake, my stick was up, I'm the first one to admit it," Briere said. "It shouldn't have been there. After what he said on the faceoff, all I was thinking was that I had to protect myself after what happened to [Andrej] Meszaros, what happened with Trevor Gillies(notes) on [Braydon] Coburn.
"If you see the faceoff before [this incident], he gets me in a headlock, punches me behind the head. What I am disappointed on is that [the league] tries to spin it as a crosscheck to the head."
Wherever might the NHL get that impression?
"If you look at the replay, it's clearly not a crosscheck which is two hands moving forward. It's a push with one hand. The mistake I made is my stick was up there. Is it worth three games for that? I don't think so.
"And on top of that, I missed him. I didn't even get him ... My glove grazed the top of his helmet, not my stick."
Well, we'll just agree to disagree on that last point. Briere actually makes a compelling argument that this wasn't what can be defined as a cross-check, which was the on-ice officials' diagnosis during the game.
Less compelling in his argument against the suspension: That Briere went after Nielsen's head and, oopsie!, mistakenly was holding his stick at the time. That's just careless.
Briere doesn't believe it was worth three games, but as we wrote Monday morning: With the NHL's emphasis on player safety and with Briere's prior disciplinary actions, it was a suspension that had to happen. It didn't need to happen, actually, if Briere dropped the gloves instead of "mistakenly" using his stick. But it stands, it had to happen.