By Danny Picard
WILMINGTON -- Andrew Ference reiterated Sunday that hits like Daniel Paille's are an "issue that has to be taken seriously" in the National Hockey League, but dismissed the notion that criticism of his teammate had caused a rift in the Bruins' locker room.
"It's a joke," said Ference. "Our room is awesome. Stuff likethat doesn't divide locker rooms. Are you kidding me? C'mon."
On Saturday's Hockey Night in Canada telecast, ex-Bruins coach Don Cherry took Ference to task for calling Paille's hit to the head of Dallas' Raymond Sawada -- which earned Pailee a four-game suspension from the NHL -- "a bad hit."
You do not -- I dont care if your teammate is an axe murderer -- . . . go to thepress like Ference did and say that was a bad hit," Cherry said. Then, referring to the Bruins' 2-0 loss to San Jose earlier Saturday, Chery added: "See what happened in the game today? Two-nothing. That brings yourdressing room down when you have a guy in the dressing room talkingabout your own players and you know hes going to get suspended."
But when asked about it Sunday, Ference stood his ground.
"We have an issue in the league with head shots, with those kind ofhits," said Ference after Sunday's practice. "There's a big push by,not only us, but the NHL, to look out for the safety of the players, andgetting rid of those hits is one of those things . . .
"It's an issue that has to be taken seriously. It's a concussion. Theseare guys lives. When you talk about things like that . . . it's not somethingthat you throw around lightly."
Paille -- who said he has reached out to Sawada, and the two had a "goodconversation" -- was asked how he felt about Ference, and answered: "Obviously, on the ice, I'll doanything I can to back him up with everything. It's just something that, hevoiced his opinion. Obviously I have different views on how I see things, Iguess. But that's just me."
Ference said he and Paille had no problems.
"It's not like Paille was head-hunting," he said. "He'snot going out there saying, 'I'm trying to put this guy out.' If it's asplit-second later, it's a good hit. It's a fast game, so no matter what ruleis there, it's going to happen.
"But you can't glaze it over and pretend likeit's fine."
Being someone who knows a thing or two about concussions, Patrice Bergeron alsogave his take on Paille's hit after Sunday's practice.
"Obviously, I know Daniel feels bad about what happened," saidBergeron. "He didn't mean to. But at the same time, sometimes those hitscan be avoided. I've said that before, and I'm not going to change my speechbecause it happened with someone on our side."
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.