Tag: biting

Claude Julien

Claude Julien’s had it with biting and taunting; Lapierre has no comment on being called “punkish”


We know you can’t get enough of the talk about Alex Burrows and his bite of Patrice Bergeron. Since there’s been so much discussion of it thanks to the league not suspending or fining Burrows for it and then Burrows singlehandedly beating Boston in Game 2, it’s become a bit of a talking point at the Stanley Cup finals in Boston.

By “a bit of a talking point” we mean “thing everyone is losing their mind over.” Bruins fans are furious over the lack of action from the NHL while the Canucks are pointing at other things that went on during Game 2 to distract the officials for tonight’s Game 3.

Adding fuel to the fire was Maxim Lapierre openly taunting Patrice Bergeron by sticking his finger in Bergeron’s face mocking him for what happened. So much talk for things not actually playing out with shots and saves can make one go crazy or get really cranky. Consider Bruins coach Claude Julien as part of the latter.  Julien let it rip today during this morning’s press conference.

Q. The biting incidents have taken on lives of their own. I want to talk to you more about Max Lapierre taunting with the finger. What do you think it says about sportsmanship or lack of sportsmanship?

COACH JULIEN: I can’t really talk about their team. I’m going to talk about mine because I don’t handle those players. I don’t deal with those players on a one-on-one basis. It really isn’t up to me to I guess comment on it. If it’s acceptable for them, then so be it. Certainly wouldn’t be acceptable on our end of it. I think you know me enough to know that. Not much I can say on that.

The NHL rules on something. They decide to make a mockery of it, that’s totally up to them. If that’s their way of handling things, so be it. Again, we can’t waste our time on that kind of stuff. We really have to focus on what we have to do. The last time I looked, we’re down two games to none, and all our energy has to go towards that.

Lapierre’s taunting was enough to also make NBC’s Mike Milbury snap off at him during intermission of Game 2 referring to Lapierre as a “punk.”

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As for Lapierre’s take on being called that he was understandably muted.

“What am I going to say to that? I’ve got no comment about that,” Lapierre stated yesterday afternoon upon arrival in Boston.

I guess there’s not much to say when all the talking he’s doing is with his digits. As for Julien’s agitated take on things today, it’s understandable. After all, if you were answering questions all the time about things that had nothing at all to do with what’s going on on the ice that matter to the game, you’d get pretty annoyed as well.

The one thing this whole situation has brought about from the series is some spice. With both teams being as locked in and as focused as they are, the interviews and takes on the game aren’t exactly attention grabbing. For better or worse Burrows’ bite and the lack of response from the NHL followed by Lapierre’s antics have helped make the Canucks more of a heel in this final battle for the Stanley Cup than a hero.

NHL won’t fine or suspend Alex Burrows for his bite on Patrice Bergeron

Alex Burrows; Patrice Bergeron;

In his first decision as the interim head disciplinarian in Colin Campbell’s place (though by no means his first decision overall*), Mike Murphy decided not to fine or suspend Alex Burrows for biting Patrice Bergeron. This comes on the heels of what seemed like strong video evidence that the Vancouver Canucks power forward bit the Boston Bruins center’s hand, although Burrows somewhat comically claimed that he didn’t actually chomp down on Bergeron’s digits.

* Murphy ruled in situations that involved Campbell’s son Gregory Campbell’s team and teams he played against in the past.

While my initial reaction was that Burrows might face a one-game suspension for the infraction, later reports indicated that a suspension or fine would be unlikely. Murphy confirmed that speculation, whether he did so because he thought the evidence was unclear or the crime was punished properly enough in the form of Burrows’ double-minor for roughing. Murphy went with the former argument in his on-the-record statement regarding the matter, at least.

“After reviewing the incident, including speaking with the on-ice officials, I can find no conclusive evidence that Alex Burrows intentionally bit the finger of Patrice Bergeron.”

There might be some Bruins fans who will be indignant over this ruling, especially if Burrows echoes Nathan Horton’s post-water bottle throwing achievements by scoring a game-winner in Game 2. That being said, more than 42 percent of PHT voters concluded that a fine or suspension wouldn’t be necessary in this poll from earlier today.

(click to enlarge)

While I thought Burrows might receive a suspension, I’m fine with the lack of supplementary discipline. It wasn’t a particularly damaging moment; Bergeron’s play didn’t seem to suffer because of the bite. More than anything else, it made the Canucks forward look awfully silly, especially since he put the Bruins on a power play to start the second period.

It wouldn’t be surprising if word surfaces a bit later that the NHL decided to hand out a light fine to Burrows. After all, we didn’t find out that the league fined Horton for his water bottle-throwing incident until a day after Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals concluded.

In other words, the general rule about the league’s supplementary discipline applies here: you just never know what the NHL will do … only that it might not make much sense. Again, I’m fine with the decision, but it still makes you wonder if the league will ever be truly consistent with its punishments. Feel free to share your thoughts on the decision in the comments.

Here’s one last look at that Burrows bite:

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Video: Alex Burrows bites Patrice Bergeron, might face suspension

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks

The first game of most Stanley Cup finals series usually requires a period of time for the two teams to “get to know each other” since the two conference representatives rarely meet. (That might change next season though, as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman vaguely referred to a “more balanced schedule” for the 2011-12 campaign during his press conference tonight.)

It doesn’t seem like the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks needed much flirtation before things got dirty, as the first period was wide open, physical and testy. Interim head of discipline* Mike Murphy won’t need to wait more than a game to face his first important decision of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, either.

Canucks power forward Alex Burrows bickered with Bruins two-way center Patrice Bergeron as time expired in the first period, receiving two roughing penalties to Bergeron’s single minor. Leaving his team shorthanded wasn’t Burrows’ worst mistake, though, as he clearly landed a bite on Bergeron’s hand during the skirmish. (Go ahead, get your Mike Tyson jokes out of the way right now.)

There have been times when a player seemingly got away with such an action when there wasn’t clear video evidence of some chomping. As you can see from the video below, it’s pretty obvious Burrows learned what Bergeron’s glove tastes like, though. Jarkko Ruutu received a two-game suspension for biting Andrew Peters during a 2009 regular season altercation, so my guess is that Burrows could be in line for a one-game punishment since this is the playoffs.

As you’ve surely learned from almost any Internet hockey humorist, it’s rarely safe to assume anything but chaos from the league’s decision making process. Feel free to debate what kind of punishment (if any?) Burrows deserves for the bite. Naturally, we’ll keep you up to date whenever the NHL addresses this memorable gaffe.

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* – Brendan Shanahan will eventually take over Colin Campbell’s recently vacated job, but Murphy will ease the transition by making the choices in this round.