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Thursday, April 28, 2011
Andrew Ference not suspended

By James Murphy
ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference will not be suspended for his hit on Canadiens forward Jeff Halpern midway through the third period of Boston's 4-3 overtime win in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series.

The NHL held a disciplinary hearing with Ference via phone on Thursday morning and decided the hit wasn't worthy of a suspension.

Mike Murphy, NHL senior vice president of hockey operations, conducted the review.

"During the hearing, Ference stated that this was incidental contact; that he saw his opponent out of the corner of his eye at the last instance and braced for the collision," Murphy said Thursday in a statement. "He further stated that the contact was unintentional. As there was no apparent injury on the play, I have concluded that this incident does not warrant discipline."

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a news conference earlier Thursday afternoon that there would be no suspension.

Halpern and Ference collided on a turnover in the Bruins' defensive zone, and Ference's shoulder hit Halpern's head, dropping the Canadiens forward to the ice. A dazed Halpern was helped to the bench but returned to the game later.

Some drew comparisons between that hit and David Steckel's shot on Sidney Crosby in the Winter Classic that went unpunished by the league.

Chiarelli did not reference that hit Thursday but did say he could see why the NHL wanted to at least investigate the hit further to determine if it warranted a suspension.

Chiarelli was asked if he was worried when the hit happened that Ference would be suspended. He said when he first saw the play he thought it was incidental contact, but seeing the replay, he could see why the league was concerned.

"But when you look at the whole play, we turned the puck over at our blue and when that happens, the D are supposed to close off the rim around the wall so he [Ference] had to," Chiarelli said. "He was moving that way and what Andy said was that he just saw the player off his shoulder as he was moving 'cause he's looking up when he saw the turnover, so with his motion and the player's motion, they ran into each other."

James Murphy covers the Blackhawks for ESPNBoston.com.