PHILADELPHIA -- Danny Briere isn't happy. Just a few hours after being suspended for three games by the NHL on Monday for his role in an incident with New York's Frans Nielsen, and just a few minutes to his team's first game without him, Briere spoke with the media.
Briere said that Colin Campbell really didn't listen to what he had to say during his over-the-phone Monday morning hearing and that the NHL's lead disciplinarian "had his mind made up before he rang." According to Briere, Campbell didn't listen to a word of what he had to say in his own defense.
He also railed against other suspensions the League has handed out over the last few months, citing Matt Cooke's hit on Boston's Marc Savard last season as well as Niklas Hjalmarsson's hit on Buffalo's Jason Pominville earlier this season.
We'll let you get right to the transcript, because all of what Briere had to say was pretty eye-opening. Again, we tried to record the video of the interview, but the camera wasn't working. Our apologies.
In any event, the transcript is after the jump. Thanks to the Flyers PR staff for putting it together.
Q: Where you surprised by the decision of the league?
"More shocked. I think surprised is not strong enough. Honestly, I'm shocked. I honestly didn't think I would get more than, after everything else, all of the suspensions that have been handed out the last couple of years and this year, honestly, I didn't think I was going to get a game. Then I thought, ok yes I am a repeat offender, they'll probably give me a game because of it. I'm shocked that it was more than a game."
Q: When you look at it, Danny, do you think you got 3 games because the third game was against the Islanders again?
"I mean it's possible. But, what am I going to do? Am I going to fight their whole team? I've had, what, 2 or 3 fights in my life, in my career. It's not like I'm going to do anything physical, even if I play against the Islanders, if that's what they were thinking. I don't know; it's possible."
Q: Is it fair to say that the new head shot rule is factoring it? They are making examples of everybody right away.
"Yeah. I made a mistake, my stick was up. I'm the first one to admit it. It shouldn't have been there. After what he said on the faceoff, all I was thinking was I got to protect myself, after what happened to [Andrej] Meszaros, what happened with Trevor Gilles on [Braydon] Coburn. I said, ‘I got to protect myself', and if you see the faceoff before, he gets me in a headlock and punches me behind the head, the same player. So I was like I got to get my head up and protect myself. What I'm disappointed in is the fact they tried to spin it as a crosscheck to the head. If you look at the replay, it's clearly not a crosscheck. A crosscheck is two hands moving forward. It's a push with one hand. The mistake I made was that my stick was up there. Is it worth 3 games for that? I don't think so. On top of it, I missed him, I didn't even get him. There are guys whose careers are in danger for bad hits to the head. [Chicago Blackhawks' defensemen Niklas] Hjalmarsson gets two games, and we don't even know what is going to happen to [Buffalo Sabres' winger Jason] Pominville. Only 2 games for that. And then you have [Pittsburgh forward Matt] Cooke on [Boston Bruins' center Marc] Savard. Savard has already lost a big amount of time. That's why I was shocked that it was more than a game.
Q: The replay looks like your stick hits him in the helmet, but you are saying it never got to his helmet?
"I think my glove grazes the top of his helmet, not my stick. He goes down because Danny Carcillo comes in and finishes his check on the faceoff. So, I understand that that made it look worse; on the play everybody thought it was me. But if you look at the replay, it's my glove that kind of grazes over his helmet. My stick doesn't touch him.
Q: Is the old hearing system still in place? Did you get a chance to talk to [NHL Executive Colin] Campbell about this?
"I did. I explained the situation. I explained that he challenged me, and that I wanted to defend myself, protect myself. I told him that I understood that my stick shouldn't have been up there. But honestly, I don't think that... [the explanation] didn't amount to anything. I think his mind was made up before he rang, because anything I said was, obviously, not taken into consideration."
Q: You said [Frans] Nielsen was cursing at you. Was it that faceoff or a previous one?
Q: What did he say?
"That's stuff on the ice, between two players."
Q: Did he say something threatening?
"Yeah. It was some sort of challenge, and that's why I had my stick up. I wanted to protect myself."
Q: Did it end with [Campbell hanging up on you]?
"Yeah pretty much."
Q: Are you disappointed with the timing of this, considering the team is on a three game roll?
"Well it's never a good time for a suspension. If you are losing, you don't want to be suspended; you want to try and get back on track and help the team. If the team is winning, you want to keep on a roll. There is never a good time for a suspension. Either way I would be disappointed."
Q: Can you talk about your aggression?
"He punched me behind the head, and if you look at the replay I'm shocked that Nielsen is doing that. I don't retaliate. On that faceoff, one thing you can write, that I told him, ‘what are you doing? I know you are frustrated but what are you trying to prove out there?' That's when he crossed the circle, and gets in my face to tell me that stuff. Even at that point, there's clearly no anger. All I'm thinking of is to protect myself. After the play, if I wanted to hurt him, I could have jumped on him, I could have punched him in the back of the head, I could have crossed checked him in the back when he's down. Then, [Islanders' goalie Rick] DiPietro comes in and spears me, and even then there's no anger, no frustration, and that's why I was a little baffled by the whole thing. Because a lot of time, they will tell you its premeditated or you clearly knew what you were doing, you were trying to get back at him. There was none of that at any point in the incident.
Q: You mentioned the serious stuff a moment ago, is this the right track to take? Is the league on the right track as far as deterrents? Were you thinking, on the ice, if you were about to get suspended?
"No you don't think about that. It just happens. I know I don't.
Q: Do you think the league has an effective policy about cracking down on hits to the head?
"I think that they need to find a way to have the same standards for everyone."