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Burrows could be facing suspension

But Canuck denies biting Bergeron

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By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / June 2, 2011

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — It seemed clear on replays. In the middle of a scrum by the Bruins net, the gloved hand of Patrice Bergeron curled around Alex Burrows’s chin with his right index finger entering the Vancouver forward’s mouth. Burrows bit down.

“I don’t mind the rough play, those scrums at the end, as long as it’s just pushing and shoving and all that,’’ Bergeron said. “But biting, come on.’’

Bergeron was clear about the incident, which occurred at the end of the first period in last night’s 1-0 Bruins loss at Rogers Arena. It appeared, in replays, that Burrows might have drawn blood, and Bergeron had a bandage over the index finger in the locker room, where he said there was no question that Burrows bit him, an offense that could lead to a suspension.

“Oh yeah, he did,’’ Bergeron said. “He cut me a little bit on my finger. I’m not going to be here and complain about it. I’ll let the league do its job, but he sure did.’’

Burrows, though, wasn’t about to admit anything.

“I don’t think so,’’ he said, when asked whether he bit Bergeron. “I think he had his finger in my mouth. I don’t think I bit him. He put his hand up, he put it in the other guy’s face, and a finger got in my mouth. That’s what happened.’’

Asked if he clamped down, Burrows said, “I don’t think so.’’

The players — both from Quebec — were speaking in French during the altercation. Bergeron said when he asked the Canucks’ forward why he had bitten his finger, Burrows replied, “What else do you want me to do?’’

There was a linesman in the middle of the play, attempting to separate the two, but his head was turned as Burrows bit. Afterward, Bergeron could be seen showing his finger to the linesman. It didn’t matter, at least not at the moment. The linesman hadn’t seen the bite. Both players were penalized, with Burrows getting a double minor for roughing, and Bergeron getting his own roughing minor.

But that might not be all.

The incident could lead to a suspension for Burrows, who plays on the line with the Sedin twins, and who scored 26 goals this season. There is precedent: Ottawa’s Jarkko Ruutu received a two-game suspension for biting Buffalo’s Andrew Peters in January 2009. When the notion of punishment was brought up to Burrows, he said, “Next question.’’

“I don’t want to start complaining about that,’’ Bergeron said. “I’m sure the league is going to do their job. I’ve got to concentrate on my game here. I can’t really worry about that stuff. Before we’ve seen some suspensions from guys. I think Ruutu did that, and he got suspended. We’ll see.’’

Bruins coach Claude Julien said he would hold off on commenting about the situation, given that he hadn’t seen a replay. But he did add, “If that’s the case it’s a classless move.’’

“We were battling,’’ said Burrows, who answered questions in English for less than a minute. “Obviously we had a little exchange there. I’m not going to say too much about it. Obviously I got four minutes on the play. We killed it off, the guys did a good job killing it off.’’

It was a game that had a significant amount of chippiness for two teams that face each other only once a year. Bergeron said he wasn’t surprised, given what’s at stake. But he was surprised, it seemed, that Burrows would chomp down on his finger.

While hockey fights are commonplace, there are do’s and don’ts. There is a line. And biting appears to be well across that line.

“I wouldn’t do that,’’ Bergeron said. “But I don’t want to start a war of words here. It’s not me. I want to concentrate on my game.’’

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmalieBenjamin.

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