Ottawa Senators winger Alex Burrows will have some time to contemplate what the NHL called a “dangerous and unjustifiable act” in Tuesday night’s game against the Devils. The Sens’ forward has been suspended 10 games for kneeing New Jersey’s Taylor Hall in an altercation after the whistle.
Burrows shoved Hall as the two teams came together in front of the Ottawa net. He threw gloves punches at Hall from behind, ultimately knocking him to the ice. As linesman Devin Berg dove on top to separate the two, Burrows drove his knee into Hall’s helmet repeatedly.
“Once he has Hall pinned underneath him on the ice, Burrows delivers multiple punches to the back of Hall’s head while Hall attempts to protect himself,” says the video from NHL Player Safety. “Unable to throw more punches, Burrows raises his leg and drives his knee forcefully into the back of the head of Hall twice. This is both serving as the aggressor in an altercation and kneeing,”
Referees Dan O’Halloran and Jake Brenk handed Burrows penalties for cross-checking and roughing. Hall was not injured on the play. He scored a power play goal on the ensuing power-play while Burrows was in the penalty box.
“He punched me in the back of the head like 10 times,” said Hall, who didn’t realize Burrows was hitting him with a knee until teammates told him back at the bench.
“He was losing his mind. I think he kneed me in the back of head at one point, too. I think he has a bit of a reputation for the player safety stuff. I think he’s cleaned it up a lot in recent past but that didn’t feel great when he was rabbit punching me there.”
According to the league, Burrows claimed the knees to Hall’s head were an attempt to “free his arm from a compromising position.” The NHL wasn’t buying it.
Burrows went after Hall after a hard, legal check along the boards just moments prior.
“I thought it was a clean hit,” said Hall, of the contact that drew Burrows’ ire.
Rule 46, which covers fighting, includes a section addressing the aggressor in a one-sided situation.
The aggressor in an altercation shall be the player who continues to throw punches in an attempt to inflict punishment on his opponent who is in a defenseless position or who is an unwilling
A player must be deemed the aggressor when he has clearly won the fight but he continues throwing and landing punches in a further attempt to inflict punishment and/or injury on his opponent who is no
longer in a position to defend himself. A player who is deemed to be the aggressor of an altercation shall be assessed a major penalty for fighting and a game misconduct.
A player who is deemed to be the aggressor of an altercation will have this recorded as an aggressor of an altercation for statistical and suspension purposes.
A player who is deemed to be both the instigator and aggressor of an altercation shall be assessed an instigating minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, a ten-minute misconduct (instigator) and a game misconduct penalty (aggressor).
While the on-ice officials didn’t feel – or perhaps didn’t realize – that Burrows’ actions escalated to a level worthy of an aggressor penalty, Player Safety – in their review of the play – determined otherwise.
Burrows spoke with Player Safety via phone on Wednesday after declining an in-person hearing.
Then with Vancouver, Burrows was suspended three games in 2014 for an illegal hit on Montreal’s Alexei Emelin. He’s since avoided supplemental discipline, despite a few ejections and an alleged bite in the Stanley Cup Final. He was also fined in 2010 for comments made about NHL referee Stephane Auger, who has since retired.
Burrows forfeits $134,408.60 in salary as a result of the suspension.
“He is what is he is,” said Devils head coach John Hynes of Burrows.
What he is now is suspended. Deservedly so.