WILMINGTON, Mass. — Daniel Paille isn't known for being a dirty or even an overly physical player. He doesn't believe he deserves that label now either, despite receiving a four-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head in Thursday's win over Dallas.
Paille was punished for his hit on Stars forward Raymond Sawada at 8:39 of the second period, as he came across the Bruins zone and leveled Sawada, drawing a major penalty and game misconduct.
"I just recognized that Sawada was going on a breakaway," Paille said of the hit after Friday's practice. "I went over there to backcheck and get the puck, but he cut back to the middle. If you look at the play, I'm ahead of him when I hit him and I felt that I hit his shoulder. Looking at the replay I felt that he kind turned toward me, so I went and finished my check. I felt that I hit him in the shoulder first."
While he admitted that he expected some sort of suspension, Paille disagreed with the length of the ban, but hopes to put it behind him and be ready to return to action when the suspension is over.
"Right now, although I don't agree with the amount of games, I accept it," Paille said. "I'm just going to focus now on being ready to come back. I was expecting a suspension for sure, but possibly two games. I was a bit shocked at the amount, but I'll just learn to accept it right now. I hope that Ray is all right."
Paille said he plans to try to contact Sawada, who suffered a broken nose and a shoulder injury on the play.
"I would probably just say that I was going into finish my check and had no intention of hurting him the way I did there," Paille said. "I would hope that he would somewhat understand and just know the type of player I am. I don't go looking for that. I hope that he would understand that."
Paille had also hoped his own teammates would understand that too, and didn't seem pleased with postgame comments criticizing the hit.
Defenseman Andrew Ference was the most vocal, saying, "It's a bad hit, right? That's what they're trying to get rid of. You can't be a hypocrite and complain about it when it happens to you and say it's fine when your teammate does it. It is a hit that they're trying to get rid of."
Paille responded to the comments on Friday.
"I think that if that's what they see that's their opinion, but for me, I felt that it was a clean hit," Paille said. "It's too bad. I thought for sure, I know most of the guys in this room would disagree with that [criticism], and for those that didn't, it's understandable with how the issue is right now with those types of hits. But I know that a lot of the guys on the team here know me and understand me and agree with me. Just looking at the replay over and over I feel that I see the shoulder hitting the shoulder. I won't focus too much on those guys and just get the support from everybody else."
Paille will miss games against San Jose, Montreal and a home-and-home series with Detroit before being eligible to return on Feb. 15 against Toronto. He will also forfeit $23,118.28 in salary as a result of the suspension.
The unpaid vacation comes at a bad time for Paille, who was finally starting to get into a rhythm after struggling to stay in the lineup much of the season.
"I felt I was getting into a bit of a groove and was happy with the way I was playing," Paille said. "Obviously it's a setback, but I've missed a lot of games so I know how to handle it and be ready when I do get back in."