Marchment Says Hit Wasn’t Intentional

The NHL didn’t waste any time hitting Edmonton defenseman Bryan Marchment with a three-game suspension and $1,000 fine Friday for the hit he put on Dallas’ Mike Modano last Wednesday.

The hit knocked the league’s leading scorer out of action four to six weeks with a torn medial collateral knee ligament. But the scrappy Marchment doesn’t buy into the idea that he intended to injure Modano. Surprisingly, the Stars don’t seem to, either.

Marchment claimed referee Mark Faucette told him it was a “great hit” seconds after it occurred. But linesman Dan Schachte slapped Marchment with a kneeing major and a match penalty.

“I hit him with my hip,” Marchment said. “I haven’t had a kneeing penalty in two years.”

“I don’t think it was malicious,” said Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock.

“That’s the way Bryan Marchment plays. You have to deal with it.”

“It looks like he stuck out his leg on the replay,” Modano told the Edmonton Sun, “but things happen in a game. We just collided.”

Campbell watch begins

The Colin Campbell watch has begun in New York. The Rangers are floundering, tied for ninth place in the Eastern Conference, and if they don’t get back on track soon, Campbell’s head might be on the chopping block.

Wayne Gretzky defended his coach, saying, “By no means is our record an indication of how we’re being coached or how we’re being taught. The responsibility falls squarely on the players’ shoulders. We owe it to ourselves and each other to get going.”

But if they don’t, general manager Neil Smith might be forced to make a move. Hello, Barry Melrose?

MacLean asks for trade

Need a 29-goal scorer from last year? The New Jersey Devils have one they’re trying to move, 15-year veteran John MacLean, who asked to be traded last week. It appears GM Lou Lamoriello will grant MacLean’s wish.

“It’s probably the first time I did something more for John MacLean than for the Devils,” the right winger said of his trade request. “I feel it’s better for myself if I move on. I feel I’m losing a little bit of the fire.”

MacLean is the Devils’ all-time leader in games played (934), goals (347), assists (354) and points (701). He’s earning $1.65 million in the final year of his contract, and he can become an unrestricted free agent after this season. He has been with New Jersey since 1983.

“I never thought this day would come,” he said of asking out.

On the ice

Jaromir Jagr scored twice and Ron Francis had a goal and three assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the visiting Anaheim Mighty Ducks 5-2 Saturday night.

At Uniondale, N.Y., Tommy Salo stopped 22 shots for his second shutout this season to lead the New York Islanders over the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0.

At Boston, Steve Heinze had three goals and an assist to lead the Boston Bruins to a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Bruins goaltender Byron Dafoe (10-10-4) stopped 24 shots to notch Boston’s first back-to-back wins in a month.

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