NHL's leading scorer was dealt 'cheap shot'

Updated: March 9, 2004, 1:13 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- Vancouver forward Markus Naslund has a concussion that will leave him sidelined at least a week after being injured in a game against the Colorado Avalanche by a hit that a Canucks official called a cheap shot.

Naslund, the NHL's leading scorer with 30 goals and 38 assists, left the ice bleeding from his forehead Monday and was hospitalized overnight for observation. He was released Tuesday morning.

I think it's a marginal player going after a superstar with a headhunting hit.
Vancouver GM Brian Burke

Naslund returned to Vancouver and won't be with the team for its road trip that ends Saturday in Edmonton, team spokesman T.C. Carling said. The team remained in Denver on Tuesday and was to fly to Minnesota on Wednesday for a game there the next night.

Naslund was injured in an open ice collision with Colorado forward Steve Moore in the second period of the game, which Vancouver won, 1-0.

No penalty was called, and the NHL said it would take no action on the hit. However, Vancouver GM Brian Burke, said: "I think it's a marginal player going after a superstar with a headhunting hit."

In postgame remarks Monday, Vancouver coach Marc Crawford criticized referees Dan Marouelli and Rob Martell for not making a penalty call.

"It just mystifies me why this happens in this league," Crawford said. "They talk about players not having respect for players. What about the officials? Should they not have respect for the leading scorer in the league? When does that come?

"It could have been an obstruction call, it could have been an elbow call. It could have been anything. Instead, they call absolutely nothing."

Moore said he was merely finishing his check in a game filled with physical play.

"I came out of the zone, and the puck looked like it was going to come out of the neutral zone," the Avalanche rookie said. "I went right to their guy, and I just finished my check. I didn't even know who it was.

"I'm certainly not looking to hurt him or anything, just a clean body check with a shoulder. The refs didn't call a penalty, and I heard them yelling, 'It was a clean check.' "

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press