Source: Lack of proof clears Hartnell

Updated: October 9, 2009, 6:53 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell was not suspended for allegedly biting Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang during Pittsburgh's 5-4 win Thursday night, a source told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun.

[+] EnlargeKris Letang
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesPens defenseman Kris Letang (top) claims Philly's Scott Hartnell (bottom) bit him during a scrum late in Thursday's 5-4 Pittsburgh win over the Flyers.

A source told ESPN.com Hartnell escaped punishment because of a lack of proof.

In the final moments of the third period, Flyers captain Mike Richards charged the Penguins' net and collided with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. After Richards dislodged the net from its moorings with 1.2 seconds remaining, Hartnell and Letang became entangled and fell to the ice.

Shortly after, Letang left the scrap holding his hand and raced off the ice, claiming to the referee that Hartnell had bit him on his hand.

There was no clear video evidence from the broadcast footage of the purported bite, but Hartnell was given a 2-minute minor for roughing.

NHL vice president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell was expected to talk to Hartnell about the incident some time Friday, a source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com's Scott Burnside.

After the game, the Penguins referred any question to the Philadelphia forward.

"Our response is, ask Hartnell," Penguins GM Ray Shero told ESPN.com via text message Thursday night. "He knows what happened."

Letang had a similar reaction.

"My answer is going to be ask him. He knows what he did. Go ask Hartnell," Letang was quoted as saying to Penguins beat writer Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

"It's a first for me," Letang later added, referring to the alleged bite. "I want to be certain you go ask him."

When pressed whether he bit Letang, Hartnell was evasive.

"A lot of stuff happens on the bottom of the pile," Hartnell was quoted as saying to Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com. "He had his hands in my face, doing the face wash, and we were rolling around. I can't say what happened."

Hartnell was asked if he had ever been accused of biting. "Not ever, really," he said.

Information from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside was used in this report.