Friday, November 20, 2009
Neal says he had no intent to injure
By Richard Durrett
FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Stars forward James Neal was suspended two games by the NHL on Friday for his hit on Columbus' Derek Dorsett during Thursday's game.
Neal, 22, was whistled for boarding in the second period of the 4-1 loss to the Blue Jackets when he hit Dorsett in the back, causing Dorsett's head to hit the glass. Dorsett had to be helped off the ice. Neal was given a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct.
"I saw the hit several times on tape this morning," said Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk, who was not with the team Thursday. "I think it's a situation where I kind of believe that Dorsett was in the wrong spot at the wrong time. There was a train wreck coming and he got in the way of it. The play was coming up the boards, James was coming in and everything was meeting at a particular point. We'll live with the two-game suspension and move on."
Neal said Friday morning that he had a brief phone conversation with league officials to explain what happened.
"They asked about the hit, and I said what I thought and that was it," Neal said. "I didn't try to hurt anybody. I'm going in there fast and I had no intent to injure Dorsett. I was trying to hit the defenseman. I hope he's OK."
Neal will miss home games against New Jersey on Saturday and Carolina on Monday. Neal, in his second season, leads the Stars with 11 goals and 22 points. This is his first suspension.
Neal will forfeit $8,515.00 as part of his salary under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
His absence could mean more ice time for Warren Peters, who was called up as an additional forward because Fabian Brunnstrom is on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
Peters, 27, had seven goals and four assists in 16 games for the AHL's Texas Stars before he was called up. He was a healthy scratch Thursday.
Richard Durrett covers the Stars for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.