The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced this afternoon that it has suspended Pittsburgh Penguins James Neal for five games for his kneeing of Boston Bruins Brad Marchand during the game on Saturday, December 7.
This video shows some discussion of a couple of the hits that happened during that game, but does show the tripping of Marchand by Sidney Crosby—which the referees did not call—followed by Neal’s aiming for Marchand. When questioned about this, Neal chose to suggest that he had no intention of hurting Marchand, as seen here in the postgame interview.
Neal had a telephone hearing with Brendan Shanahan in regard to the issue, which meant that the maximum number of games that he could be suspended was five.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Neal will forfeit $128,205.15 as a result of the five games. That money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
In his explanation of the decision to suspend for the five games, Shanahan said that it was clear that this hit was more dangerous than it might have looked, calling attention to where Neal is looking.
“While looking down directly at Marchand, Neal turns his skates and extends his left leg, ensuring that contact is made with Marchand’s head.”
The full explanatory video issued by the Department of Player Safety can be seen by clicking here.
And perhaps the best comment on Neal’s attempts to feign innocence comes from Hockey Hall of Famer scribe, Kevin Paul Dupont.
One is left to wonder if Neal actually thought video would not catch him.
— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) December 9, 2013
Fortunately Marchand did not end up concussed, but the intent to injure was clearly evident by all who watched the game. Hockey is a game of inherent danger and injury simply from the speed of the men playing and the fact that they have sticks in their hands, knives strapped to their feet, and a vulcanized piece of rubber flying at insane speeds. One has to wonder if Neal will be told, by management of the Penguins, that such plays are not acceptable going forward.