James Neal Says Collision With Brad Marchand Was Unintentional, Has Phone Hearing With NHL to Discuss Hit

Brad MarchandPenguins forward James Neal was given a two-minute penalty for kneeing in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Bruins when he collided with Boston forward Brad Marchand, but that might not be all of the punishment he will receive from the play.

The Bruins winger was laying on the ice as Neal skated by him, and the replay shows that his shin collided with Marchand’s head. Marchand laid on the ice for a few seconds before going to the locker room, but he did return to the game.

Neal, who will have a phone hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to discuss the play, told reporters after the game that his collision was unintentional.

“I was skating by him, I haven’t like seen the replay or anything so I mean I hit him in the head with my leg or my foot or my knee or shin area I don’t know,” said Neal. “But I mean he’s already going down and I guess I need to try to avoid him, but I have to look at it again. I haven’t gotten a chance to look at it.”

“I’m going by him, I don’t get out of the way like I said,” he added. “I need to be more careful and I guess get my knee out of the way, but I’m not trying to hit him in the head or injure him or anything like that.”

Just a few moments after Neal’s penalty, Shawn Thornton and Brooks Orpik were involved in a scary incident in which the Bruins forward grabbed the Penguins defenseman and punched him in the head while he was laying on the ice. Orpik was taken off the ice on a stretcher, was transported to Mass General Hospital and will travel back to Pittsburgh with the team.

Like the rest of his Pittsburgh teammates, Neal didn’t have much to say on what happened between Thornton and Orpik.

“I’m not going to comment on that obviously, never like to see anything like that. Thought the confrontation was over after you know he asked him to fight a few times and kept going after him…”

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