McSorley Suspended From NHL Until Feb.

ByABC News

Nov. 7, 2000 -- Marty McSorley will serve one year on suspension for slashing Vancouver’s Donald Brashear across the head.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the former Boston Bruinsdefenseman can return to the ice on Feb. 21. The suspension is the longest for an on-ice act of violence in NHL history.

Bettman had suspended McSorley indefinitely after the attackduring a game in Vancouver.

“I believe I owe it both to this player and to all otherpresent and future NHL players to impose a suspension of a definiteand ascertainable length,” Bettman said. “I have also consideredMr. McSorley’s desire to have an opportunity to play in the NHLagain in conjunction with his expressed remorse for his actions.

McSorley, a 17-year NHL veteran, is a free agent and can begin practicing on Jan. 1.

Convicted of Assault

McSorley originally was suspended for the remainder of the1999-00 season and playoffs by Bettman, who noted that the playerskipped a hearing held two days after the game.

He then was convicted of assault with a weapon on Oct. 6, withJudge William Kitchen giving McSorley a conditional discharge,meaning McSorley will not have a criminal record.

The conviction, which McSorley said he will not appeal, was thefirst of an NHL player for an on-ice hit since 1988.

Decision Carefully ConsideredBettman looked at enhanced videotapes of the slash beforerendering his decision. McSorley claimed he was trying to goadBrashear into a fight late in a 5-2 loss and was not attempting toinjure him.

Brashear missed 20 games with a concussion, but rejoined theCanucks last season.

Before making his decision, Bettman met with McSorley, hisagents Mike Barnett and J.P. Barry, and his attorney Paul Kelly.Ian Pulver and Ian Penny of the NHL Players Associationparticipated in the meeting by telephone, while Bettman was joinedby Colin Campbell, the league’s executive vice president anddirector of hockey operations, who handles most disciplinary cases.

Bettman said, “I simply cannot in good conscience justify imposing asuspension of less than one calendar year given the nature of theincident in question, regardless of the effect that suspension mayhave on Mr. McSorley’s career.

“At the same time, however, byimposing a suspension of one year (as opposed to a set number ofgames), and with the suspension scheduled to end nearly one fullmonth before this season’s trade deadline, I believe it is quitepossible that Mr. McSorley might, in fact, be able to sign anotherNHL contract and therefore continue his NHL career during the2000-01 season,” said Bettman

The Bruins did not immediately return phone calls seekingcomment.

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