Burke fires shot at Neil

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

NHL lord of discipline Colin Campbell must have Anaheim Ducks defenceman Chris Pronger on speed dial by now.

Every reporter covering the Stanley Cup final should do the same with Anaheim GM Brian Burke.

Thanks to a shot of adrenaline for the Senators and two shots to the head in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, a series has broken out.

What started out as a boring sweep in suburban California has turned into a nasty bit of business in Canada's capital with elbows and accusations flying.

Pronger was suspended for the second time in these playoffs and will miss Game 4 tonight for his elbow to the head of Senators forward Dean McAmmond in Game 3.

After losing Pronger, Burke tried to turn the tables, calling a hit by Ottawa's Chris Neil on Ducks forward Andy McDonald "reprehensible."

Normally, you would say that's just Burke.

You know his strategy, and that of most executives in this kind of situation: Your guy is the villain, a repeat offender, no less, so you deflect, right?

But you know what?

Burke's got a bit of a case.

In the second period Saturday night, Neil took five big strides from the Ducks blue line and collided with McDonald by the hash marks. Neil's left elbow caught McDonald in the side of the head.

Luckily for the smaller McDonald, he saw Neil coming and twisted out of the way, mitigating the effects of the hit. He went down, got up and skated away.

NO PENALTY

Neil wasn't penalized, but it could have been a charging or an elbowing penalty. If McDonald was hurt, maybe Neil would have been on the carpet yesterday, too.

"The most dangerous play in the game (Saturday) night was not Chris Pronger's hit on Dean McAmmond. It was Neil's hit on Andy McDonald," said Burke, who does bluster well.

"That's the troubling part for us. We'll take our one game. That's Colin's job and it's a tough one and we'll take it. But the fact there was one hearing (yesterday) is just mind-boggling to me."

McAmmond wasn't as lucky as McDonald. Pronger's elbow caught him in the side of the head and knocked him out. He's "very questionable" for tonight's game, said Senators coach Bryan Murray.

So, two hits to the head, neither penalized by the referees.

One guy gets up, the other doesn't.

One guy gets suspended, the other doesn't.

"I don't think this act warranted supplemental discipline if it didn't cause this player to be knocked out," Campbell said of the Pronger hit.

GREY AREA

Both Burke and McDonald took the head-shot argument -- the issue that's been head-and-shoulders above the rest this year -- into the grey area of intent.

They've got a point. Not many guys get hit in the face with an elbow by accident. An elbow to the head is an elbow to the head for the guy on the receiving end.

Burke, who used to have Campbell's job, doesn't think a suspension should only be handed out in the case of injury.

When he brought up the Neil hit to Campbell, Burke said he got the equivalent of "talk to the hand."

"(Campbell) said the player wasn't injured, so mind my own business," said Burke. "Obviously, I didn't share that view."

McDonald said he thought Neil should have been suspended -- no surprise there -- and he thinks intent should also be considered.

"You have to hope the league does its job. Whether a guy gets hurt or not, you have to hope they're protecting the players out there, especially when it comes to those high hits and going after guys' heads," said McDonald, who missed the second half of the 2002-03 season and a trip to the Stanley Cup final that year because of a concussion.

The league's general managers are meeting today and Burke said he thinks head shots will be discussed.

"We have to find a balance for taking shots to the head like Chris Neil's out, which to me was deliberate, went right at the guy and a play like (Pronger's) which was a reaction hit," said Burke.

Trying to differentiate between Pronger's hit and Neil's is a little self-serving for Burke.

Looking at the replay of the Neil hit on McDonald, it looks like Neil intends to hit him with his arm and shoulder. When McDonald ducks, Neil lunges so not to miss and gets him with more elbow as he's delivering the blow. So, what was Neil's intent?

He wanted to hit McDonald.

Pronger wanted to hit McAmmond.

Players need to be responsible. If they cause an injury with an elbow, the consequences should be greater.

The GMs will probably talk about head shots today, but the fact of the matter is the NHL doesn't need new rules to cover what both Pronger and Neil did Saturday night.

It's called elbowing.

Cause an injury and it's called a suspension.


Videos

Photos