After watching the replays, Mark Borowiecki considers himself lucky. Very lucky.
The Senators defenceman was back for practice Tuesday after suffering a stiff neck when hit from behind into the boards by Carolina’s Kevin Westgarth Sunday. It was an ugly hit, resulting in Westgarth receiving a two-game suspension Tuesday afternoon.
“When I watched it on tape, it looked a little bit worse than I originally thought it was,” Borowiecki said Tuesday, speaking before NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan made his ruling. “I don’t think his intention, I don’t think anyone’s intention, is to ever injure someone or put someone in (the boards) from behind, but it seemed like his momentum carried him in there and he finished me pretty hard.”
Borowiecki believes Westgarth probably regretted the hit as soon as it happened, considering that minor hockey players are told at a young age to avoid contact when a player is in that vulnerable position.
“I feel bad that he got hurt,” Westgarth told Raleigh’s News & Observer newspaper. “That’s not part of my game. I take pride in playing with respect for the other guy. After I watched the video, I thought it looked more violent. I was trying to get out of the way, but it made it look like I was trying to pile him into the boards. I hope everybody can understand that was definitely not my intention. I’m glad he’s okay.”
During the explanation of his ruling, Shanahan said Westgarth acted “recklessly” against Borowiecki.
“Westgarth is in complete control of this play and should have completely avoided contact,” he said.
Borowiecki says he feels well enough to play Wednesday, providing he gets medical clearance and that MacLean chooses to use him against the Capitals.