BOSTON – Boston Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron said Thursday that the NHL must crack down on hits from behind, like the one that left him with a severe concussion and a broken nose.
“We NHL players need to respect each other a bit more,” said Bergeron, who was wearing a full neck brace. “If you see a number or see the back of a player, just don’t hit him. It’s not part of the game and it’s against the rules.”
It was the first time Bergeron, one of Boston’s top players, has spoken publicly since he was injured during the Oct. 27 game against Philadelphia.
Bergeron was unconscious after being pushed into the boards face-first by Flyers defenceman Randy Jones. Bergeron, 22, was taken from the ice on a stretcher and spent the night in hospital.
“I remember pretty much the whole thing,” he said at a news conference. “Before I had seen the hit, there were some parts I couldn’t remember. I couldn’t really remember why I was going for the puck, and what I was going to do with it. After watching the play, I realized and remembered I was going to pass the puck to Chucky (Kobasew), who was on the other side of the net.”
Jones, who was suspended for two games by the NHL for the hit, has tried to contact Bergeron, but Bergeron has not returned the call.
“He actually left a message last week,” Bergeron said. “He left a message and said he apologized and he didn’t mean to do that, but I’m not here to say anything bad about Randy Jones.
“It’s more about trying to change things and make sure it’s not going to happen to anyone else.”
Bruins general manager Chiarelli has said concussions like the one Bergeron suffered usually take at least a month to come back from. The team has not estimated when he might return.
“Obviously, I would be lying if I said I feel good right now,” Bergeron said. “It’s tough for me to be sitting here. I feel a lot of the symptoms from the concussion and so far it’s hard for me to walk 200 feet without feeling dizzy and light headed.
“Pretty much day-to-day stuff I would normally do is tough.”
Chiarelli said the NHL should consider new ways to stop illegal hits.
“There’s been a lot of discussion, prior to the hit on Patrice, on head shots,” Chiarelli said. “I know Patrice feels, obviously, very strongly about it and I’ve talked to his agent also about proceeding internally, whether it’s within the league or within the union or together.
“Right now, I’m more concerned with Patrice getting healthy.”
Bergeron was chosen 45th overall by the Bruins in the 2003 NHL entry draft. He’s in his fourth NHL season, putting up seven points (3-4) before the injury. He had 70 points (22-48) in 77 games last season.