Testimony Ends in McSorley Trial

Friday, September 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Testimony concluded Thursday in Marty McSorley's assault trail, with the NHL player set to learn the judge's verdict next Friday.

McSorley, who has played in the NHL for 17 seasons, could get up to 1 1/2 years in prison if convicted of assault for clubbing Vancouver's Donald Brashear in the head during a Feb. 21 game between the Boston Bruins and Canucks.

The blow is not in dispute. The judge will try to determine whether such an attack in an NHL game constitutes assault.

On Thursday, former Boston player Steve Heinze testified that hits to the head are a ``common occurrence'' in the NHL.

``You always get your bell rung a few times a season,'' said Heinze, who now plays for the Columbus Blue Jackets. ``Pinpoint accuracy is not something that occurs as a guy is flying by you. You can only aim for a spot.''

His testimony was intended to support the defense's contention that stickwork is common and to reinforce McSorley's claims that he intended only to hit Brashear in the upper shoulder.

McSorley's lawyers also called Bruins trainer Don Del Negro, who testified McSorley had been plagued by wrist and shoulder injuries leading up to the game against the Canucks.

McSorley, 37, testified Wednesday his injuries might have hampered his ability to land his stick where he intended.

The trial is the first for an on-ice attack by an NHL player since Dino Ciccarelli, then with the Minnesota North Stars, was sentenced in 1988. He received one day in jail and a $1,000 fine for hitting Toronto's Luke Richardson with his stick.

Brashear, who banged the back of his head on the ice after McSorley hit him, sustained a concussion, lost consciousness for a few moments while on the ice and suffered memory lapses. He returned to play after several weeks and has fully recovered.

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