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Vitale on controversial hit: “I didn’t know [it was Briere], and I really didn’t care”

Apr 2, 2012, 2:32 PM EDT

Vitale Briere

Welcome to the spotlight, Joe Vitale.

A day after igniting a melee with his hit on Daniel Briere, the Pittsburgh forward became Public Enemy No. 1 in Philadelphia after it was learned Briere and another victim of a Vitale hit — Nicklas Grossmannwere knocked out of the Flyers lineup with injuries.

The 26-year-old checking forward discussed the Briere incident with Shelly Anderson of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“I saw a white jersey coming up the ice,” Vitale explained. “I took the body on him. I didn’t know if it was Briere or whoever.

“I was playing my last shift like I play every shift…I didn’t know [it was Briere], and I really didn’t care.”

The fury surrounding the hit spilled over to the benches as Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette got into a screaming match with Pittsburgh assistant Tony Granato and head coach Dan Bylsma.

Laviolette continued fuming in his postgame presser.

“Those guys hadn’t been out there in 12 minutes,” Laviolette said, referring to Vitale and linemates Craig Adams and Arron Asham. “It’s a gutless move by their coach. It’s gutless.”

Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby had a different take on the incident.

“I’m sure [Laviolette] doesn’t like to see one of their top players getting hit,” he said. “Maybe he shouldn’t have put him out there.”

It’ll be interesting to see what transpires on Saturday as the Penguins and Flyers will meet again at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Vitale might want to think about wearing some type of body armor.

  1. flyersgoalscoredby88 - Apr 2, 2012 at 2:35 PM

    What would he be apologizing for? It was a clean hit.

    • greggoldberg - Apr 2, 2012 at 2:41 PM

      Agreed completely.

      Now, as for his knee-to-knee hit on Grossmann, that’s a different story.

    • phil5111 - Apr 3, 2012 at 5:33 PM

      The Flyers started the fights over a CLEAN hit. Please get a life Flyer’s fans. And guess what – the Penguins are afraid of no one on the Flyers.

      My prediction – the final game will be hard and clean as well as the series.

  2. buffalocentric - Apr 2, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    Crosby said that? Hmm their coach better be mighty careful. I think Philly will be coming for blood.

  3. heyzeus143 - Apr 2, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    kill em, kill em all

    • Buffalo Grumblings - Apr 2, 2012 at 5:15 PM

      Ok Wyatt

  4. dabutcha114 - Apr 2, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Sid the kid is gonna be the one who pays for that. Hope he is crippled for playoffs. Let’s go Rangers!

    • govtminion - Apr 2, 2012 at 3:07 PM

      Stay classy!

    • fulahops - Apr 2, 2012 at 5:30 PM

      eat S@#$% and DIE dabutcha

  5. howardforvezina - Apr 2, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Im suprised there is no backlash on the ejection Kyle Quincey in the Wings-Panthers game after hitting Kopecky.

  6. geo91 - Apr 2, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    A hit is a hit, I don’t get why there was an uproar you play from the puck drop to the horn. Big deal Laviolette don’t be a baby

  7. GenoPringles - Apr 2, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    The Great Joe Vitalle needs no body armor. He is made of pure steel. Quit crying already filthy the hit was clean. If you want to be mad at someone look to your joke of a coach. Same guy who burnt out your goalie is now responsible for Brierre being hurt too.

    • ml3939 - Apr 2, 2012 at 3:56 PM

      ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^biggest douche on the internet.

      Vitale hit was clean. Laviolette stood up for his team. No issues either way. Pittsburgh did nothing wrong but set the tone for the upcoming series.

      I would like to see the no one on the Penguins get hurt in retaliation to these events and hear what excuses the Pen’s fans will have losing to the shorthanded Flyers in the playoffs (Pronger, JVR, Mes and possibly Grossman and Briere).

  8. iamanidiotfan - Apr 2, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    Compared to some of the hits they’ve shown on PHT, this was the cleanest. I hope these teams meet in the playoffs. It will make a real hockey series.

  9. danphipps01 - Apr 2, 2012 at 3:17 PM

    Man, Crosby’s not a guy prone to smack-talk. That’s unusual, even for the rivalry.

    • drewsylvania - Apr 2, 2012 at 3:55 PM

      Huh? Crosby runs his mouth almost constantly.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Apr 2, 2012 at 4:34 PM

        He’s usually pretty diplomatic during interviews.

    • bmscalise - Apr 2, 2012 at 5:26 PM

      Sid was pretty matter-of-fact in the way he said that in the scrum. I don’t think he considered it smack-talk – just a statement of fact. The hit was clean, and it’s pretty common practice not to put important guys on the ice in a game that’s already been decided.

      That said, Sid despises the Flyers, and if any team brings that out in him, it’s Philly.

  10. killerpgh - Apr 2, 2012 at 3:19 PM

    If you look at the ice time reports from the game Vitale and Adams were on the ice less than 7 minutes before that shift. That was Adams and Vitale 5 shift of the 3rd period. Asham’s 3rd of the period. Asham was on the ice after the flyers scored the go ahead goal (3rd) in the 3rd period. Put that line out after a goal is nothing out of the norm from Bylsma.

  11. bobhpine - Apr 2, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    Joe Vitale is 5’11” 200 lbs with 51 pim’s on the year. Just the message sending goon I would have imagined.

    • odj810 - Apr 2, 2012 at 4:03 PM

      He’s such a beast. I don’t blame lav’s for being mad for sending vitale out on the ice. That guy could is scary, He could take out john scott if he got challenged….

  12. illadelphiasphinest - Apr 2, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    Crysby-“I’m sure [Laviolette] doesn’t like to see one of their top players getting hit,” he said. “Maybe he shouldn’t have put him out there.”

    That 87 on her jersey just got replaced with a bullseye. Carefull what you wish for Sindy.

    • pajabroni - Apr 2, 2012 at 8:30 PM

      you act as if he doesn’t have a bullseye on his back every shift? get real dude

  13. lasallehockey81 - Apr 2, 2012 at 4:37 PM

    Laviolette burned his goalie out? You mean the goalie who’s the number 1 star for the month of March? A foot injury from a shot isn’t burned out nor is it the fault of a coach…That may be wishful thinking..

  14. crashtheboards55 - Apr 2, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    The hit was clean. I see no problem with it. If one of the flyers would have hit malkin or crosby or anyone at the end of the game the same way I would not have a problem with it either. The Schenn crosscheck was bull no matter who he it. That should not be tolerated no matter who it is. I hate how this league is turning into a garbage garage league. I am a huge Pens fan and I personally can’t wait to see the this matchup without the garbage from both teams. Both teams have great talent and skill and are fun to watch. Laviolette acted like a complete moron. His teams play to the end of the game and finish checks. Vitale did the same thing. To call Bylsma classless and gutless and smash a stick was moronic. I would love to see all of the BS headshots and cheapshots taken out of the game no matter who is playing. In my opinion, if Philly were completely healthy, they would be the team to beat in the East. This is coming from a Pens fan. Just calling it how I see it.

    • emoser - Apr 2, 2012 at 5:18 PM

      The Schenn crosscheck wasn’t exactly “tolerated.” If it wasn’t for a weird scenario where the time during which he did that got lost in the twilight zone due to a review and clock rewind then it would have been a penalty. If it wasn’t the flyers and penguins being involved then neither that nor the hits on grossman and briere would be big news. Two of the three incidents were simple penalties and one was a clean hit… happens in every game.

    • ml3939 - Apr 2, 2012 at 8:49 PM

      You seem pretty unbiased in your analysis. However, Crosby took a shot at Schenn in the back first and skated right in front of Schenn after he did it. The puck was no where near Schenn at the time. Schenn retaliated, that was it. Crosby was just as guilty, he just didn’t get caught. Go to NHL.com and watch the full game highlights. At 2:53 it shows Crosby hitting Schenn in the back first.

      • crashtheboards55 - Apr 2, 2012 at 9:34 PM

        I was at work and I missed that portion. 99% of hockey players are “dirty”. Some cross the line but the game is a rough one. There are some exceptions like Datsyuk, but Crosby gets his shots in too. He isn’t innocent. I just don’t think you hit someone after a whistle. Just like a dead ball foul in the NFL.

      • steelernation1 - Apr 3, 2012 at 5:50 PM

        yea but there is a difference schenn was right there with him..schenn went out of his way to do what he did after the whistle….but i guess u r a flyer fan and are blind to the fact that the flyers are probably one of the dirtiest teams in the NHL.they always were but its ok that they play that way?you ml3939 are a hypocrite

  15. fulahops - Apr 2, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Flyers put out there #1 lone and it also includes there leading fighter and the Penguins are wrong for putting there checking line out .Hmmm

    • The Baseball Gods - Apr 2, 2012 at 5:42 PM

      English please?

    • flyersgoalscoredby88 - Apr 2, 2012 at 8:28 PM

      That’s not the number one line, and if the Flyers want to fight they’d put Shelley out. Rinaldo is all of 5’11 and 170 pounds. He just plays with every ounce of it.

  16. kingmiedus - Apr 2, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    The problem I have with what Crosby said is that both teams putting their 4th line out is exactly what the NHL doesn’t want. They don’t want these fights at the end of the game when it is already decided, you put your 4th line out and that’s what it looks like you are trying to do.

    Philly didn’t have their leading fighter out by the way fulahops – Rinaldo was on the bench.

    This hit was clean, but obviously the team is going to take exception to it either way, if Crosby got drilled like that, everyone would be skating at whoever hit him too, regardless of how clean the hit is, you protect your skill players.

  17. lasallehockey81 - Apr 2, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Fula- not sure why you think the Briere line is the number 1 Flyer line… But it’s not…at all. That would be the Giroux line, obviously. Also, where’s the fighter on the Briere line? Simmonds has fought in the past but I’d hardly categorize him as a fighter at all.

    • ml3939 - Apr 2, 2012 at 8:52 PM

      Simmonds can definitely throw fists. In all likelihood he just thought he was tying up withe Engelland and had no true intention to fight him with his preexisting facial injuries. If he was ready to go and not hurt it would have been a more competitive fight. Not saying he would of won but no way Engelland would have teed off on him the way he did to start the fight. Simmonds is very good at controlling the distance in his fights.

  18. j0ey15 - Apr 3, 2012 at 12:39 AM

    What cracks me up is every time a player hits Crosby, Pittsburgh fans cry in an uproar.. However when the shoes on the other foot it’s just a part of hockey lol… Let’s go rangers

    • sportscritic101 - Apr 3, 2012 at 3:02 AM

      not if it’s a clean hit like vitale laid on danny!

  19. j0ey15 - Apr 3, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Almost like the “clean hit” (sucker punches) Malkin was throwing down on the back of Giourx’s head? Lol you pens fans are hypocrites

  20. steelernation1 - Apr 3, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    j0ey15 – Apr 3, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Almost like the “clean hit” (sucker punches) Malkin was throwing down on the back of Giourx’s head? Lol you pens fans are hypocrites

    it was ok for Schenn to do what he did though?Briere needs to stop pouting.and there coach needs to zip it..they dish that crap out every time they play the pens..but its not ok when a team does it to them?so joey15 zip it..the hit on crosby was intentional he went out of his way to crosscheck him in the back.you cant say otherwise.Vitale made a clean hit it was legal.and as far as you calling pens fans hypocrites think back to all the dirty play over the years that the Pilly criers did before you make a comment like u did

  21. steelernation1 - Apr 3, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    oh by the way joey15 the reason that line went out there after not being out there 12 minutes is because the top 3 lines were out there tryin to get back in the game..so with a minute left why try when down by 2 points..so the 4th line was sent out to finish the last minute..

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