Saturday, January 7, 2012

Former Badger Bourque Suspended for Elbow on Backstrom

Former University of Wisconsin Badger forward Rene Bourque, now of the Calgary Flames, is watching his next several NHL games from the stands.

Bourque was suspended for five games after elbowing Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom in the head on Jan. 3. Backstrom later left the game with a head injury and did not return.

The decision was handed down by NHL discipline czar and career 500-goal scorer Brendan Shanahan, who took into account the fact that Bourque was a repeat offender. He had actually been suspended just 16 days before, for his hit from behind on Chicago's Brent Seabrook.

Bourque will forfeit over $203,000 in salary for his suspension for the Backstrom hit, according to He will be eligible to return to action on Jan. 17 at San Jose.

Looking at the replays, Bourque could have put a shoulder into Backstrom, but instead conked him with an elbow as Backstrom skated by. Bourque claimed it was a reflex reaction—but the league has been coming down harder on players who target the head, intentionally or not.

It's the same with players who get beat by a puck-carrier and then stick out a knee to stop him, which can also cause serious injury. That stuff has to be taken out of the game.

Bourque can play the game, as he has tallied over 100 goals and 200 points in his NHL career. He collected 57 goals and 97 points in 152 NCAA games with Wisconsin from 2000 to 2004, including 10 game-winning goals.

He also led the Badgers in scoring as both a junior and a senior, and finished his college career with a goal in a 2-1 overtime loss to Maine in the 2004 NCAA East Regional final in Albany, N.Y.

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