VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) _ Marty McSorley sat expressionless as prosecutors opened his assault trial by showing video of him bashing Donald Brashear over the head with his stick during a game.
McSorley, an NHL enforcer who played for the Boston Bruins last season, faces up to 1 1/2 years in prison if convicted of assault with a weapon.
Prosecutor Mike Hicks introduced several exhibits, including a 14-minute video of the Feb. 21 game with the Vancouver Canucks in which McSorley and Brashear fought in the first period. McSorley’s late-game hit on Brashear was shown from different angles.
McSorley, who has spent 17 years in the league, watched the tape stoically, jotting down notes at times.
Also displayed were photos of Brashear’s battered face taken by the team photographer one day after the game. Brashear sustained a concussion and returned to play near the end of last season.
The first witness called by the prosecutor was NHL referee Brad Watson, who officiated the game.
This is the first trial 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 striking Toronto’s Luke Richardson with his stick.
The key issue is not whether McSorley struck Brasher but whether such an attack in pro hockey constitutes assault with a weapon. The NHL contends disciplinary matters should left to the league.
McSorley was suspended by the NHL for the final 23 games of the season. He lost about $70,000 in pay and is an unrestricted free agent. He still must meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman before he is cleared to play.
McSorley is unsigned and had shoulder surgery in the offseason. At 37, it’s not clear if he will play again, regardless of the outcome of the trial.