- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
- 0 Shares
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The NHL has ruled that Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic will not be suspended for his collision with Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller during the Bruins' 6-2 win on Saturday at TD Garden.
Brendan Shanahan, the NHL senior vice president of player safety and hockey operations, conducted a conference call with Lucic and the Bruins Monday afternoon.
"I felt until that moment, it's reasonable that he really felt this was a potential breakaway," Shanahan said. "He should have made more of an effort to get out of the way ... the reason this isn't, in my mind, supplemental discipline is because Lucic makes no movement towards Miller. It's shoulder-to-shoulder contact. I don't think it's any reasonable expectation on that collision that there's necessarily going to be an injury of that degree."
Miller suffered a concussion and will not play Monday night in Montreal, according to the Sabres.
After the ruling, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli issued the following statement: "We are satisfied with the NHL's announcement that there will be no suspension or fine for Milan, and we respect the process that the League took to reach this decision.
"I am also proud that Milan took the high road, and chose not to engage in an exchange of words after the unfortunate comments that were made about him following the game," he said.
Chiarelli was referring to this quote by Miller after the game: "I just want to say what a piece of (expletive) I think Lucic is. Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that. It's unbelievable. Everyone in this city sees him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he played. That was gutless. Gutless piece of (expletive)."
The Sabres, meanwhile, were upset that Lucic wasn't
suspended and suggested it sent a message across the NHL that
goalies won't be protected.
"It just means that teams will be to able do exactly what Lucic
did," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff told reporters in Montreal. "Your
goaltender can play the puck, we can run him over, we can hurt him
and all you get is a two-minute minor penalty.
"That is essentially what that means -- You can concuss the
other team's goalkeeper ... it means it's fair game on goaltenders
Shanahan reacted strongly to the Sabres complaints.
"I think Buffalo's comments are irresponsible to suggest that
it's open season," Shanahan said Monday night at the Hockey Hall of Fame
induction ceremony. "I will have this warning for players: 'It's
not. If you run a goalie you're going to find yourself in the same
situation that Lucic was today, you're going to have to explain
yourself and you don't explain it sufficiently, and if I don't buy
it, you're going to be suspended.'"
Told of Shanahan's comments, Ruff stood by his words.
"I said what I said, and I'm not going to back down from what I said," he said.
After having Sunday off, the Bruins returned to the practice ice Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena. Afterward, Lucic spoke about the situation, saying there was no intent to injury Miller on the play.
"I blocked a shot and pushed the puck a little too far ahead of me," explained Lucic. "I was skating after the puck as hard as I possibly could and I looked up and he was still in his net. I looked down at the puck and was continuing on and the next thing I know I look up and he's coming out full speed at me. Obviously it was a hard collision and I did everything I could just to brace myself.
"Like he said, I have 50 pounds on him and that's probably why he might have got the worst of it. If you look at the video, I was cringing after the play, too, because I was winded and it was such a hard collision. He got a good piece of me as well."
When asked about Miller's comments, Lucic said, "Obviously he felt like he needed to stick around and say what he said. For me, it's in one ear and out the other. I just move on and focus on what I need to do to continue to help this team be successful."
Miller remained in the game and later was involved in another collision in his net when the Bruins' Tyler Seguin was pushed into him. Miller did not play the third period.
Lucic was asked if he was surprised that Miller reportedly suffered a concussion on the play.
"Was I surprised? Yeah," Lucic said. "Because with the new protocol and the concussion stuff, I know the last three NHLPA meetings that I've been a part of where they're clarifying concussions and head injuries, the main thing they've talked about is there's no such thing as getting your bell rung, or seeing stars anymore because that's considered a concussion. And, if you're in the position, you have to do whatever you can to take yourself out of play. Obviously, Ryan plays a big part in NHLPA and I respect what he does there.
"If you look at it, and I've looked at the hit 100 times because they said he got a concussion, I looked at it and his shoulder hit my chest, so there was no hit to his head," added Lucic. "His helmet came flying off but his head didn't hit the ice. Then later on in that period, one of their guys lifted (Seguin's) stick and threw him into the net, as well, so who knows what it was. It's obviously unfortunate he got hurt on the play."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Information from ESPN The Magazine's Craig Custance and The Associated Press was used in this report.
1dESPN Stats & Information