Hockey player found guilty of assault during game

Associated Press

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – National Hockey League veteran Marty McSorley was found guilty today of assault with a weapon for hitting another player with his stick during a game earlier this year.

The conviction is the first of an NHL player for an on-ice hit since 1988.

A Vancouver judge gave McSorley a conditional discharge, meaning he will serve no jail time and his record eventually could be expunged. He could have been sentenced to as much as 1 1/2years in prison.

McSorley, a 17-year NHL veteran known as an “enforcer” for his often rough play, hung his head as he spoke after the conviction was announced. He told the court he intends to speak personally with Vancouver Canucks player Donald Brashear, the opponent he clubbed over the head with his stick.

“I’ve played the game for a long time,” said McSorley, 37. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for the game. … I’m extremely glad to see Donald back on the ice and I do plan to address this with Donald in person.”

McSorley was skating for the Boston Bruins when he bashed Brashear during a Feb. 21 game. He testified that he didn’t intend to hit Brashear in the head. He contends he was instead trying to hit him in the shoulder to provoke him into fighting.

“If Marty McSorley had skated up the ice and slashed Donald Brashear in the upper shoulder, there would be no criminal assault,” defense lawyer Bill Smart said. “It’s within the norms of NHL hockey.”

But provincial court Judge William Kitchen didn’t buy the explanation.

“He had an impulse to strike him in the head,” Kitchen said as he announced the conviction. “Brashear was struck as intended.”

Though hockey players are frequently penalized for swiping at other players with their sticks – an infraction called “slashing” – such blows rarely end up in court. But McSorley’s hit was considered particularly brutal. He was charged after thousands of fans and millions more television viewers watched the incident.

The blow occurred with three seconds remaining in the game. As Brashear skated with his back to McSorley, the Bruin defenseman came up behind him and slashed at his upper body, striking him in the side of the head and sending him crumpling to the ice.

Brashear, who briefly lost consciousness, testified that he still has no memory of the incident. He has since recovered fully and is back playing with the Canucks.

McSorley is the first NHL player to be charged criminally for an on-ice blow since 1988, when Dino Ciccarelli got a day in jail and a $1,000 fine after a vicious stick-swinging incident.

The weeklong trial heard evidence from McSorley and Brashear, on-ice officials, Canucks coach Marc Crawford, New York Rangers executive Glen Sather and others. Even hockey great Wayne Gretzky made a cameo appearance, not to testify but to sit in the courtroom in support of his friend and former on-ice protector McSorley.

McSorley was suspended by the NHL for the rest of the season after the hit and is an unrestricted free agent. He must meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman before he resumes playing.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

Bothell
2 injured in Bothell Everett Highway crash

The highway was briefly reduced to one northbound lane while police investigated the three-car crash Saturday afternoon.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
On I-5 in Everett, traffic nightmare is reminder we’re ‘very vulnerable’

After a police shooting shut down the freeway, commutes turned into all-night affairs. It was just a hint of what could be in a widespread disaster.

Anthony Brock performs at Artisans PNW during the first day of the Fisherman’s Village Music Fest on Thursday, May 16, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
At downtown Everett musical festival: ‘Be weird and dance with us’

In its first night, Fisherman’s Village brought together people who “might not normally be in the same room together” — with big acts still to come.

Two troopers place a photo of slain Washington State Patrol trooper Chris Gadd outside District 7 Headquarters about twelve hours after Gadd was struck and killed on southbound I-5 about a mile from the headquarters on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Marysville, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Judge reduces bail for driver accused of killing Marysville trooper

After hearing from Raul Benitez Santana’s family, a judge decreased bail to $100,000. A deputy prosecutor said he was “very disappointed.”

Pet detective Jim Branson stops to poke through some fur that Raphael the dog found while searching on Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Everett, Washington. Branson determined the fur in question was likely from a rabbit, and not a missing cat.(Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lost a pet? Pet detective James Branson and his dogs may be able to help

James Branson, founder of Three Retrievers Lost Pet Rescue, helps people in the Seattle area find their missing pets for $350.

Whidbey Renaissance Faire volunteers pose in their costumes. (Photo by Bree Eaton)
Faire thee well: Renaissance is coming to Whidbey Island

The volunteer-run fair May 25 and 26 will feature dancers, a juggler, ‘Fakespeare,’ various live music shows and lots of food.

Community Transit leaders, from left, Chief Communications Officer Geoff Patrick, Zero-Emissions Program Manager Jay Heim, PIO Monica Spain, Director of Maintenance Mike Swehla and CEO Ric Ilgenfritz stand in front of Community Transit’s hydrogen-powered bus on Monday, May 13, 2024, at the Community Transit Operations Base in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New hydrogen, electric buses get trial run in Snohomish County

As part of a zero-emission pilot program from Community Transit, the hydrogen bus will be the first in the Puget Sound area.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Video: Man charged at trooper, shouting ‘Who’s the boss?’ before shooting

The deadly shooting shut down northbound I-5 near Everett for hours. Neither the trooper nor the deceased had been identified as of Friday.

Two people fight on the side of I-5 neat Marysville. (Photo provided by WSDOT)
Road rage, fatal police shooting along I-5 blocks traffic near Everett

An attack on road workers preceded a report of shots fired Thursday, snarling freeway traffic in the region for hours.

The Port of Everett and Everett Marina on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Is Port of Everett’s proposed expansion a ‘stealth tax?’ Judge says no

A Snohomish resident lost a battle in court this week protesting what he believes is a misleading measure from the Port of Everett.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.