Still, the club was not happy that it was another of its players being made an example of for the latest lateral hit to the head, as forward Daniel Paille was suspended for four games on Friday for his hit on Dallas’ Raymond Sawada in Thursday’s 6-3 win over the Stars.
“Obviously we’re right in the forefront of this whole concussion, head shot thing and a big proponent of what the league is trying to do,” Bruns general manger Peter Chiarelli said. “I support that and I think we as an organization have contributed a lot to that. But I thought it was a little stiff, the sentence.
“We felt [Paille] tried to square up and circle around, and in fact if you look at the footage at one point he was two or three feet ahead of the player, then circled back,” Chiarelli said. “Whether the hit was in the danger zone, that lateral blind spot, it probably was. But I really felt that he tried to circle back and get square to the player and get in front of him. I thought it was a little stiff. I thought maybe one or two games.”
Previous suspensions for violations of Rule 48, the rule implemented last year after Matt Cooke‘s blindside hit on Savard, have been for slightly less than what Paille received. Phoenix’s Shane Doan and Toronto’s Mike Brown each received three-game bans, while San Jose’s Joe Thornton and the Islanders’ Matt Martin each got two games.
“There should have been punishment, don’t get me wrong,” Chiarelli said. “There should have been punishment, but I thought he should have been less than four games. There’s a couple out there that were two and three games and I thought it should have been in there.”
Cooke, of course, was infamously let off the hook completely by the league, which had no rule specifically banning that type of hit when he delivered his cheap shot to Savard on March 7. Seeing Paille suspended now isn’t sitting well with many of the Bruins.
“I’m a little surprised at the severity of the hit,” one Bruin said after Friday’s practice. “They must be trying to make a statement, but when it was our guy lying on the ice they didn’t make much of a statement.”
Paille stated that he felt the hit was clean, that he made contact shoulder to shoulder. Bruins coach Claude Julien went even further, stating that Sawada needs to bear some of the responsibility as well for getting caught with his head down.
“I think there’s a lot of responsibility that’s taken off the player that’s getting hit now,” Julien said. “Until the players themselves in their minds think about stopping putting themselves in vulnerable positions, whether it’s playing with your head down or whether it’s playing by the boards and seeing you’re going to get hit and turning your back, or whatever the case may be. I think if the players start taking that responsibility it’s going to minimize a lot of these things.”
Julien felt that Sawada could have avoided the broken nose and shoulder injury he suffered from the hit with better awareness on the ice.
“Once you’re in the pros, you’ve been told for many, many years never to play with your head down,” Julien said. “So if he hasn’t learned by now, he shouldn’t be in the pros.”
Chiarelli stressed that his support for the league’s crackdown on blindside hits to the head hasn’t wavered, just that he didn’t agree with the punishment for this particular case.
“It’s evolving,” Chiarelli said of the implementation of punishment for Rule 48 violations. “I like the direction it’s going. I like the parameters that they use, I just don’t like how they applied it here.”