The ruling from the NHL came down, and the Wild will be without star defenseman Brent Burns for two games. This following the injury to Florida's Steve Bernier from a butt end hit to the face from Burns' stick. The injury clearly played a role in the suspension being handed down, but Burns had to be suspended for this. The stick is the second most dangerous object on the ice, and players have to control it at all times.
Burns knows this, and said as much to the media today. You can see the video HERE, and it is clear that Burns has some serious remorse. Russo reported that Burns was clearly ill about the incident, and has tried to contact Bernier to offer an apology.
Make the jump for further discussion, the video, and reaction from the Florida side.
In case you missed the video in the Walk earlier, here it is:
Truly just a stupid move, in the heat of the battle, and it is unforgivable. As stated above, the stick has to be in control, and Burns knows that. The message had to be sent that you cannot smack a guy in the face with your stick, and that is what the league did here. For the first time in my life, I think the league may have actually gotten this right.
As for reaction, we go to our friends over at Litter Box Cats, the SBN Panthers blog. Most of the reaction is fairly civil, considering. However, a couple of lines are a bit over the top. On the game recap, one commenter said this:
that headshot though on Bernier was even more cheap than the Richards on Booth hit and that was just completely unnessasary. hopefully he’s alright though, but I hope that Burns pays for this big time
First off, this isn't a "head shot" in the way we have discussed head shots for the past five years. This is a butt end penalty, and one that is a serious infraction. However, we need to not confuse the two, as they are two completely separate infractions.
Next, an I am in no way defending what Burns did here, but what happened does not compare to this:
Richards absolutely targeted Booth's head with an intent to injure, Booth was knocked unconscious, showed absolutely zero remorse for doing so, and led to a near immediate change in the rules by which the games are played to keep it from happening again.
Again. Not defending what Burns did. Not in any way, shape or form, but we need to stay within the realm of rationality here. The two are not the same, and the Richards hit could have been lethal. Burns was stupid, has shown a great deal of remorse, and has admitted he screwed up. He has tried to contact Bernier, which I do not remember Richards attempting to do with Booth.
I know "he's not a dirty player" gets thrown out all the time, but Burns really isn't. This is Burns getting too riled up at the end of a game, and letting frustration cloud his actions. Ridiculous, stupid, and unforgiveable. Yes to all of those. As bad as Richards? Not even close.
From a post showing the video for the first time, LBC commenter "The FIn Reaper" wrote this (in response to someone saying Burns wouldn't be suspended):
I'd put money on this. They'll say it wasn't a hard hit and that he had forgotten he had a stick in his hand (even though he turned is hand upside down to jam the stick into Bernier's face).
There was never any doubt Burns would be suspended. Clearly an action that warranted it. Watching the video, I just don't see the level of malice that Fin sees. I don't see a premeditated move to hit him intentionally with his stick. Of course, I'm going to be countered with "You're biased toward the Wild, so your opinion is tainted" so I'll just agree to disagree, but I just don't see it.
Back on the gamer post, one of our cohorts at LBC, Johnny B, wrote this:
There’s also a bit of difference between a questionable hit in a game and going after a guy and punching him in the face while you’re still holding your stick after the final horn sounds because you didn’t like that he finished his check on you with one second left.
Burns should get whatever they would have given him for a head shot on a check. Two games?
PS: If the league really wanted to cut down on post-game shenanigans they would suspend everyone who picked up a penalty at 20:00. Yes, including Bryan Allen for that cross-check. But they won’t. They’ll "make an example" of Burns and this stuff will continue to happen and he’ll have to hope he doesn’t do anything else during his career for which he might be suspended since he’ll be a repeat offender.
I can't say I agree with the suspensions for penalties after the final horn, but I see the point. However, I don't see why a hit after the game is any different than one in it. A bad hit is a bad hit. No need to differentiate when it happened.
From the gamer itself comes a point I have some contention with. Friendly contention, but contention nonetheless:
Pretty standard goings-on until after the final horn, as Minnesota defenseman Brent Burns decided to roll the dice on an involuntary (actually, very voluntary) vacation, using his right hand to steady the face of Florida forward Steve Bernier, as his left hand - gripping the stick - goes all hole-puncher on Bernier's dental work. Remarkably cheap, idiotically pointless, and served only to pad the D-man's penalty stats with a 5-minute fighting major (no opponent cited) and a game misconduct. Logic would expect a phone call to the Minny coaching staff by old friend Colin Campbell within a day or so. For the same reason, don't hold your breath.
Using his right hand to steady the face the face of Bernier? Again, I just don't see that in the video. I see Burns throw both hands out at the same time, one of which (stupidly) still had a stick in it. The whole thing happens in fraction of a second. It's not like Burns lined him up, thought it out, grabbed Bernier's face, loaded up the butt end of the stick, and purposefully slammed the spear into his face.
I get it, I do. Donny was writing after the game, there was no video available at the time, and it looked pretty bad. Scratch that, it was pretty bad. There is a ton of emotion in this paragraph, which is completely understandable. I didn't watch the game, and I am judging this solely on the video replay.
Pad his PIMs? Not sure that Burns is out to pad his penalty count. The coaching staff should get a call? Why? What did they do? This was all on Burns, this isn't like Richards told Burns to go out there and do something stupid. This is not the Canucks organization. "Goes all hole puncher?" I love the imagery, but again, I don't see how it matches the video. Tow hands come in almost at the same time, there is one hit.
Here's my final take on it. I would call Burns out, just like anyone else. Very, very stupid move. As soon as I saw it, I knew he needed to be, and would be, suspended. I really hope no one takes this post as some kind of defense of what he did. It isn't. I just think the reaction coming out of Florida makes this look like the worst thing that ever happened in an NHL game. I really hope there is no one out there who thinks that.
I always try to put myself in the shoes of the other side. What if this was Cal Clutterbuck lying on the ice, bleeding, with a broken orbital bone? Would I be calling for blood? I just don't think I would be. A suspension, yes, but I don't think I can draw the line from this to being as bad as the Richards hit, and I really don't think Burns had any of the premeditated malice that the comments above indicate.
Before I move on: Here's to a speedy recovery for Bernier. No one should have to suffer this type of injury, and I truly hope he recovers quickly to help his squad be the best they can be.
As for where this leaves the Wild, it pretty much screws them. If Zidlicky can't play, the Wild have zero puck movers left, the top two offensive d-men out, and two huge minute guys gone. I won't say there is no chance of the Wild winning without these two, but it certainly makes it that much more difficult. Russo says the Wild will try to get Zidlicky to Tampa if he feels up to playing.
I have my questions about that. If he was good enough to go, he should have been there already. If he is hurt, then he is hurt. The situation the team is in should not effect recovery time. Something doesn't smell right with the line of thinking that he was hurt, but now we really need him, so he isn't hurt anymore.
They should be going with what they have, and that is not much. Tampa is going to steam roll them tomorrow, with or without Zidlicky, so just let the guy get better and not make a bad situation worse by rushing him back.