Monday, December 19, 2011
Milan Lucic gets one-game suspension
By Joe McDonald
BOSTON -- Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic was given a one-game suspension by the NHL for his illegal hit on Zac Rinaldo during a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, and he missed Monday's 3-2 win against the division-rival Montreal Canadiens.
The Bruins' forward was ejected from Saturday's 6-0 victory over the Flyers after the second-period hit.
Lucic had a conference call with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Monday morning. Shanahan said Lucic's past incidents were taken into consideration.
"While this hit is not particularly egregious, it is illegal," said Shanahan. "However, the overriding factor in elevating this hit from behind from a penalty on the ice to a suspension is his history of similar infractions, warnings and a fine. We've taken into account that Rinaldo suffered no apparent injury as a result of this hit."
In pleading his case, Lucic said later Monday that he told Shanahan, "I did everything I could to try to hit his shoulder, to try to make the hit not from behind. As I said after the game, you could see his legs and body turning as he was going into the boards. I felt if I did hit him from behind, he would have gone in headfirst.
"But they didn't see it the same way I did."
While Lucic admitted before Monday's game against the Canadiens at TD Garden that he didn't agree with the suspension, he said "you have to respect the decision whether you agree with it or not."
He added that the timing was particularly unfortunate.
"It sucks to sit out a game for an incident like this," Lucic said, "especially when we're playing out rivals tonight -- Montreal."
Lucic will also forfeit $22,072.07 and the fine will go to the Players' Emergency Fund.
Boston genearl manager Peter Chiarelli said he knew going into the season that the league may watch the Bruins a bit more closely. Boston used its physical play last season to beat Vancouver in the Stanley Cup finals.
"We went into the year with the new rule changes thinking that we were going to be a little more scrutinized," he said. "We might have even played a heavier game in the playoffs, and, again, people were clamoring that we got away with stuff, and maybe we did and maybe we didn't."
Lucic leveled Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller in a game back in November, but wasn't suspended or fined for the hit. Miller had come out of the net to take away a potential breakaway.
Chiarelli felt that the league took the history of Lucic's actions into account before handing down the suspension this time.
"What was explained to me was that when there have been incidents before with a player, they look at the whole body of work," he said.
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.