Peter Chiarelli is livid.
The Bruins GM lashed out at the Canadian media, accusing them of blaming winger Patrice Bergeron for getting injured on a hit from behind by Philadelphia defenceman Randy Jones last Saturday.
Chiarelli told Sun Media in a telephone interview yesterday that people have "no idea" that Bergeron "came within a fraction of an inch of breaking his neck" and coverage of the incident in Canada has been a "total travesty."
"I believe it's over the top to suggest that Patrice Bergeron is partly at fault for what has happened to him in this case," Chiarelli said before the club's one-hour flight to Ottawa yesterday.
"He's a player pursuing the puck. To suggest that he made an error and he was reckless ... I mean, How else is he supposed to get the puck? Is he supposed to skate in backwards? That's just ridiculous. Commentators suggesting that Patrice was partially at fault is a travesty.
"Bergeron is one of the hardest playing players in the league. To suggest that he would do this on purpose ... is just absurd."
NHL VP Colin Campbell didn't believe there was any malicious intent on the part of Jones, who received two-game suspension for the hit.
Bergeron had to be taken off on a stretcher and Chiarelli noted "this has been devastating to his family. One family member thought when it happened, the way he was lying there, he was dead."
Chiarelli said Bergeron is going to be out at least a month and it's possible he may not play again this season.
Bergeron even had to be taken by wheelchair from his Boston apartment to get treatment at the TD Banknorth Garden on Thursday because he isn't able to walk very far.
'HARDLY GET OUT OF BED'
"He can hardly get out of bed," said Chiarelli. "There are things that he can't do. He couldn't even leave his apartment this week to accept an award he was supposed to get from a children's hospital for all the community service he does in this area.
"This incident seemed to get buried right away (by the media). We've stated we're disappointed with the suspension, but we can say that until we're blue in the face. No offence to Randy Jones, but he deserved more. The extension of all this is people don't know how serious Bergeron is hurt and I want people to know this."
Chiarelli said Bergeron should never have been blamed and that Jones shouldn't have hit him the way he did.
"Jones could have accomplished what he wanted to accomplish by not doing what he did," said Chiarelli.
"He could have broken (Bergeron's) neck. He came within a fraction of an inch of breaking his neck. It's only because he's truly developed in that area that he didn't. He's wearing a hard collar. It's a travesty to portray Bergeron the way (the media has).
"No one has written about the impact on Bergeron, the impact on his family. His parents are shaken up. Everyone has the right to say their piece. I'm sure Randy Jones is a good person, but he hit this guy with force and it warranted a suspension. We thought it warranted a longer suspension.
"The coverage just wasn't balanced. I'm just aghast about the way certain commentators in Canada have treated this."
OFF THE GLASS
John Paddock wasn't thrilled with the way Chris Neil tried to get the crowd involved during his fight with Atlanta's Eric Boulton on Thursday, but the Senators coach didn't agree with comments that the rugged winger ignited the Thrashers bench. "Just fight and get off the ice," said Paddock. "But if that's what (the Thrashers) need to get themselves going on their bench, then that's pretty sad." Neil noted he always attempts to get the fans up when the club is at Scotiabank Place. "We're in the entertainment industry," said Neil. "This is not something I do on the road. This is something I do at home. We scored after that fight, so I don't think it hurt us." ... G Martin Gerber will start for Ottawa tonight against the Bruins. C Randy Robitaille, who has a facial contusion, will play.