NHL won’t punish Vancouver’s Alex Burrows in alleged finger bite
Reporting from Vancouver, Canada — The NHL will not punish Vancouver forward Alex Burrows for allegedly chomping on the finger of Boston center Patrice Bergeron during the Canucks’ 1-0 victory over the Bruins on Wednesday in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.
Mike Murphy, the league’s senior vice president of hockey operations, announced the decision Thursday following a phone interview with Burrows, a productive winger who usually plays alongside high-scoring twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
“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,” Murphy said in a statement.
Burrows was not available for comment Thursday after the Canucks went through an optional practice at the University of British Columbia. He said Wednesday that Bergeron’s fingers were inserted into his mouth but he didn’t bite down. Bergeron maintained he had been wronged but said he won’t whine about it.
“He did it but I’m over it,” Bergeron said. “It’s the league’s decision and I’ll let them make the call and make the decision.”
Canucks players were relieved Burrows will be available for Game 2 on Saturday at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena.
“He’s been playing huge since the beginning of the season, so we’re pretty happy,” center Max Lapierre said.
No word on Hamhuis
Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault declined to update the status of defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who left the game early in the second period because of an undisclosed injury. But defenseman Sami Salo said the Canucks learned to be flexible after injuries forced them to play 13 defensemen during the season and nine during the playoffs.
“It’s nothing new this year,” Salo said. “It shows the depth of this team. Everybody’s comfortable playing really with anybody. Dan is obviously a big part of this team, but other guys stepped in big-time.”
If Hamhuis can’t play, the Canucks can choose among Andrew Alberts, Keith Ballard and Chris Tanev.
Thomas true blue?
The Canucks have been claiming that Boston goaltender Tim Thomas plays far outside his crease and initiates contact with opponents, which should be penalized. Vigneault said his own goalie, Roberto Luongo, did that last season and paid for it.
“I mean, 90% of his saves are where he’s outside the blue paint,” Vigneault said of Thomas. “Roberto played sort of the same way last year. We got in trouble because of that. . . . We said [Wednesday] that we were going to look to get a little bit of clarification on certain situations.”
If that’s a ploy to get into Thomas’ head, it’s not working. “I just play my game. It’s not always in the blue. Sometimes it is. You got to do what you got to do,” he said.
Although the Bruins were 0 for 6 on the power play and are five for 67 in postseason play, Bruins Coach Claude Julien indicated he will keep 6-foot-9 defenseman Zdeno Chara as a giant screen in front of the net.
“They were pretty hard on him [Wednesday] at times. He just got back up and did his job,” Julien said. “I anticipate he’ll only get better at that position as we use him there.”