By Danny Picard
WILMINGTON -- Daniel Paille thought it was a clean hit. Claude Julien thinks Raymond Sawada should have had his head up coming over the blue line. And Peter Chiarelli believes the four-game suspension that the NHL hit Paille with on Friday for Thursday's hit on Sawada, was a little too harsh.
"I thought it was a little stiff," said the Bruins' general manager after Friday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. "We felt that Paille tried to square up, and circle around Sawada. In fact, if you look at the footage, Sawada was at one point, two or three feet ahead of Paille, and circled back . . . thought it was a little stiff. I thought maybe one or two games.
"There should have been punishment, don't get me wrong," added Chiarelli, pointing out that the hit did take place in a blind spot on the ice, around the same area that Savard was hit last winter in Pittsburgh. "There should have been punishment on this. I thought it should have been less than four games."
As Sawada took the puck over the blue line from the left wing, he cut into the middle of the ice, and Paille came streaking from the right side, and came up high on the Stars' forward, causing the officials to eject Paille from the game.
Chiarelli sat in Friday morning's league hearing with Paille, and each side gave their view of the hit.
Having Marc Savard out of the lineup once again, mainly because of a brutal hit he took to the head from Matt Cooke last winter, Chiarelli and Julien both made it known on Friday that they fully support the league's stance on cutting down head shots.
"They're sending strong messages, and I'm not opposed to that," said Chiarelli. "This thing is a hot issue, and rightfully so. Part of me, deep down, thought that something like this might come down, and it did."
Both believe that there's no place in the game for "blind-sided hits," but both also believe that this one could have possibly been prevented, on Sawada's end.
"There's a lot of responsibility that's taken off the player that's getting hit, now," said Julien after Friday's practice, re-iterating his stance on Thursday night that Sawada had his head down. "So until the players themselves, in their minds, start thinking about stop putting themselves in vulnerable positions, whether it's playing with your head down, whether it's being by the boards and seeing that you're going to get hit and turning your back, or whatever the case may be, I think if the players start taking that responsibility, I think it's going to minimize a lot of these things.
"To me, I think that, until the players really take that upon themselves, you're still going to get those things happening. We can minimize that, if they do their part. That's my opinion.
"Once you're in the pros, you've been told for many, many years, not to play with your head down," said Julien. "So if he hasn't learned by now, he shouldn't be in the pros. Again, I'm stating my opinion."
Paille knows how sensitive the league's head-shot rule is, and he said he feels like he's being made an example of, because he thought his hit was clean.
"Obviously it was a fast-paced play, and I just recognized that Sawada was going on a breakaway, and I just went over there to back-check and get the puck, but he cut back through the middle," said Paille, who said he was expecting a two-game suspension, not a four-game. "If you look at the play, I'm ahead of him. When I hit him, I felt that I hit his shoulder at that moment. And looking at the replay, I felt that he kind of turned towards me, so I finished my check. I felt that I hit him in the shoulder.
Sawada suffered a broken nose and a sore shoulder on the hit, and Paille has yet to get in touch with him.
If he does get in touch with Sawada, Paille's message will be clear: there was no intent to injure, because he still feels it was a clean hit.
"I know that a lot of the guys on the team here know me and understand me, and agree with me," said Paille, even though Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference was quick to call it a "bad hit" after Thursday's game. "Just looking at the replay over and over, I feel that I see the shoulder hitting the shoulder."
--Marc Savard was scheduled to meet with team doctors on Friday. Chiarelli said there wouldn't be an update for a few days, as he is also scheduled to meet with Savard and his agent over the weekend.
--Call-up Zach Hamill will get a look on Saturday in the Bruins lineup against the San Jose Sharks. During Friday's practice, he centered a line with Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, while Tyler Seguin moved down to the wing with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.
Chiarelli said that as of right now, Hamill is just "getting a look" and that it could possibly end up being more than that.
--Thornton left practice early on Friday, but Julien said he'll be playing on Saturday against the Sharks.
"Let's put it this way, he wasn't 100 percent, and I told him to get off," said Julien. "There are banged up players at this time of year, but not banged up enough to miss a game, but certainly want to give him the best opportunity to be ready for Saturday."
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.