NEW YORK (AP) â€” Marty McSorley received the last ruling for his hit on Donald Brashear, and he'll have to wait a little longer to resume his NHL career.
McSorley on Tuesday had his suspension extended by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to Feb. 20 â€” one day short of a year â€” for a stick-swinging attack to Brashear's head. The ban is the harshest penalty for on-ice violence in NHL history.
The vicious hit in the waning seconds of a game no longer in doubt landed McSorley in trouble with the league and the law.
The former Boston Bruins enforcer was convicted in a Canadian court on Oct. 6 of assault with a weapon and received a suspended sentence.
McSorley was banned for the final 23 games of last season after he struck the Vancouver Canucks forward, and needed to apply to Bettman before returning to the ice.
``I have eliminated immediate reinstatement as an appropriate result,'' Bettman said in an eight-page decision. ``Nor, however, am I comfortable with imposing a 'lifetime ban' on Mr. McSorley.''
Bettman's ruling Tuesday, after an Oct. 31 meeting, was that McSorley must sit out a total of one year.
``It is difficult to imagine a more irresponsible and dangerous act on the ice than the one that was involved in this case,'' Bettman said. ``Mr. McSorley approached his intended victim from behind, with virtually no time left in an already decided hockey game, and delivered a two-handed slash which struck the head of an unsuspecting, non-puck carrying, and therefore, vulnerable opponent causing that opponent serious injury.''
McSorley can negotiate and sign with any NHL club, and he can begin practicing or trying out for a team on Jan. 1. He is not permitted to play in a game until Feb. 21.
``I believe I owe it both to this player and to all other present and future NHL players to impose a suspension of a definite and ascertainable length,'' Bettman said. ``I have also considered Mr. McSorley's desire to have an opportunity to play in the NHL again in conjunction with his expressed remorse for his actions.
``I simply cannot in good conscience justify imposing a suspension of less than one calendar year given the nature of the incident in question, regardless of the effect that suspension may have on Mr. McSorley's career.''
Phone calls to McSorley and his agent were not immediately returned. The Bruins would not comment.
A decision to suspend McSorley for the remainder of the 1999-00 season and playoffs â€” had the Bruins qualified â€” came after an initial hearing held two days after the game.
Bettman noted that McSorley failed to attend that hearing, instead appealing for a delay.
McSorley was convicted in a British Columbia court, with Judge William Kitchen giving McSorley a conditional discharge, meaning McSorley will not have a criminal record.
The conviction, which McSorley will not appeal, was the first of an NHL player for an on-ice hit since 1988.
McSorley, an NHL veteran of 17 years, finally met with Bettman last week ago â€” seeking approval to resume his career.
Bettman looked at enhanced videotapes of the slash before rendering his decision. McSorley claimed he tried to goad Brashear into a fight late in a 5-2 loss and was not attempting to injure him.
Brashear missed 20 games with a concussion, but rejoined the Canucks last season.
Before making his decision, Bettman met with McSorley, his agents Mike Barnett and J.P. Barry, and his attorney, Paul Kelly. Ian Pulver and Ian Penny of the NHL Players Association participated in the meeting by telephone, while Bettman was joined by Colin Campbell, the league's executive vice president and director of hockey operations, who handles most disciplinary cases.