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.
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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: