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 Wednesday, March 8
McSorley to face charges in British Columbia
ESPN.com news services

 VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Marty McSorley of the Boston Bruins must now answer in a Canadian court for his vicious stick attack on Donald Brashear of the Vancouver Canucks.

McSorley -- one of the league's most notorious enforcers -- was ordered Tuesday to appear in court April 4 on one count of assault with a weapon for his Feb. 21 attack.

Marty McSorley
Boston's Marty McSorley looks at Vancouver's Donald Brashear, prone on the ice after McSorley slashed him in the right temple.

McSorley, who does not need to be present, plans to plead innocent, his lawyer said. If convicted, McSorley could face a maximum of 18 months in jail.

"I'm disappointed," McSorley said in an interview with Steve Levy on ESPN's Up Close. "I'm disappointed it's going to court, because I don't know if anybody really knows right now how much I've already lost."

The defenseman, 36, was suspended by the NHL for the rest of the season in the league's harshest penalty ever for an on-ice infraction. He must meet with commissioner Gary Bettman before the league will consider letting him play again.

"I've been in contact with a very good lawyer in Vancouver and we were trying to not have it go to court," McSorley said. His suspension already will cost him an estimated $72,000 in salary.

His Vancouver lawyer, Bill Smart, said he hopes for a trial date in late summer or early fall.

Geoff Gaul, a spokesman for the British Columbia criminal justice branch, the Crown Counsel office, said the decision to charge McSorley was made after a prosecutor's review and a police investigation.

The standard for determining charges follows a two-part process: first, the likelihood of a conviction on the charges is considered. If the first standard is passed, there is then a determination whether there is public interest to prosecute the charge.

The NHL was displeased with the move but said it will fully cooperate with Canadian authorities.

"As we stated at the time the suspension was imposed, we believe the League dealt with the matter quickly, decisively and appropriately -- and did not feel that any further action was either warranted or necessary," said Bill Daly, the NHL's chief legal officer.

"We, therefore, would have preferred that the Crown not take this action. Having said that, the Vancouver authorities have made their decision and we remain committed to offering our full cooperation in any way we can."

Bruins president and general manager Harry Sinden also expressed disappointment that the courts were getting involved.

"The National Hockey League has handed down a severe discipline in this case and we feel that was sufficient," he said, adding that the team would also cooperate fully.

After McSorley struck him in the right temple, Brashear fell backward, striking his head against the ice as his helmet came off. His body twitched and blood flowed from his nose. He was diagnosed with the most serious kind of concussion and his status is to be reviewed in about a week.

McSorley and Brashear, another NHL tough guy, had fought earlier in the game, and McSorley said he was trying to goad Brashear into another fight at the end of the game, a 5-2 victory by the Canucks.

"I had absolutely no intention of hurting Donald Brashear with my hockey stick," McSorley told ESPN Tuesday. "I wanted a confrontation with Donald Brashear, no different than I've done on so many other nights. ... It just went badly."

McSorley has lasted 17 years in the league because of his ability to fight and protect his more skilled teammates. He had six previous suspensions in his career.

He is best known for serving as Wayne Gretzky's protector with the Edmonton Oilers and then with Los Angeles as the two were traded together in one of hockey's biggest deals.

McSorley said he's received calls of support from players in the league and Hall of Famers -- "numerous tough guys" -- who say they understand what happened and offered to speak on his behalf.

He told them to stay out of it, because he didn't want attention drawn from the game.

"That's one thing I really feel bad about, is the fact the game doesn't need a black eye -- and I don't want to be the cause of it," he said in the ESPN interview.

It took police just over a week to investigate the slash, which was witnessed by thousands of fans at the game and shown repeatedly on TV highlight clips.

"There's a lot more involved in this than just that second and a half or two seconds that the video shows," McSorley said. "I think he embarrassed me. You definitely want a rematch. You have to stand up for yourself. Our bench was challenged. Our team was challenged."

Police have gotten involved in several previous on-ice conflicts in the NHL.

In 1970, Wayne Maki of the St. Louis Blues and Ted Green of Boston were the first NHL players taken to court after a stick-swinging duel at a September 1969 preseason game. Green, who suffered a fractured skull, and Maki, who was not injured, were acquitted of assault charges.

In 1975, Dave Forbes of the Boston Bruins went to trial, accused of using excessive force against Henry Boucha of the Minnesota North Stars. The trial ended in a hung jury and the prosecution did not seek a retrial.

In the most recent, Minnesota's Dino Ciccarelli was sentenced to one day in jail and fined $1,000 in 1988 for striking Luke Richardson several times in the head with his stick.


Players, NHL think courts shouldn't be involved

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 Criminal Justice spokesman Geoff Gaul says McSorley is innocent until proven guilty.
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 Former teammate Ray Bourque hopes it works out for McSorley.
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 Marty McSorley apologizes to the fans and the NHL.
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