BOSTON (CBS) — Pittsburgh Penguins forward James Neal was suspended five games for kneeing Brad Marchand in the head in Saturday night’s game in Boston.
The incident took place in the first period of Saturday’s eventful game. Sidney Crosby tripped Marchand near the boards in the Boston end, leaving Marchand lying flat on his side on the ice. Marchand was looking up ice as Neal toward him. The Penguins forward extended his left leg out in order to make contact with Marchand’s head.
Marchand remained down on the ice after the hit, requiring attention from the trainer, but he did not leave the game.
Neal’s phone hearing took place on Monday. The 26-year-old was suspended for a playoff game in 2012 for consecutive hits on Sean Coutourier and Claude Giroux. He was suspended three years prior to that, and he also was fined during that season and warned twice by the department of player safety.
The incident took place just before Shawn Thornton took down Brooks Orpik from behind and delivered several punches to the Penguins defenseman while he was lying down on the ice. Thornton is facing a hefty suspension, the length of which will be determined at an in-person hearing later this week.
Neal has 10 goals and 10 assists in 20 games this season for the Penguins. After Saturday night’s game, Neal didn’t admit that he did anything wrong.
“I was skating by him, I haven’t seen the replay or anything so I mean I hit him in the head with my leg or my foot or my knee or shin area, I don’t know,” Neal said. “But I mean he’s already going down and I guess I need to try to avoid him, but I have to look at it again. I haven’t gotten a chance to look at it. … I mean, what do you want me to say? That I was trying to hit him? No, I’m going by him, I don’t get out of the way like I said. I need to be more careful and I guess get my knee out of the way, but I’m not trying to hit him in the head or injure him or anything like that.”