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Del Zotto claims he was bracing himself during Neal hit

Apr 5, 2013, 11:31 PM EDT

mdzottogetty Getty Images

While there’s no debating the fact that Michael Del Zotto elbowed James Neal late in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2-1 shootout win against the New York Rangers on Friday, there’s plenty of debate about his intent.

Del Zotto told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he was just bracing himself during the collision, but admitted that the NHL might perceive the exchange differently.

“I think they just dumped (the puck) in, and I knew I was going to get hit on the forecheck,” Del Zotto said. “I just tried to kind of reverse hit and brace myself. I’m not sure exactly what happened.”

The Penguins provided mix reactions. Head coach Dan Bylsma didn’t really give the 22-year-old defenseman a free pass and didn’t provide a lot of detail about Neal’s status.

“Don’t have an update right now,” Bylsma said. “I don’t think there is any question what the contact was and where (Del Zotto) made contact.”

Depth forward Craig Adams was a bit more diplomatic.

“I can’t say that it was intentional. But the fact is, he elbowed him right in the chin. That’s not good,” Adams said. “You have to give the refs the benefit of the doubt. If they would have seen it, they would have called it.”

Either way, a Neal injury could be a dirty blow to the Penguins’ chances.

Check out the video one more time:

116 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. broadstbully33 - Apr 6, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    @Jamestherealdealneal Yea pens fans have never left a game early… That’s a joke rights or do you need examples? How many screen names did you make up just for this article? At least 3 is my guess and I’m being very generous.

    • jamestherealdealneal - Apr 6, 2013 at 11:05 PM

      pens fans never leave there team no matter the score. and I only have one screen name. and let me guess your a flyers fan right because you certainly act like one. and you probably know nothing about hockey.

  2. flyersfan82 - Apr 6, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    Like when your team was going to move because you had no attendence? Short memory for pens

    • wettwork - Apr 7, 2013 at 9:03 AM

      Hey fellow Pennsylvanian fellow hockey , just a bit of info when the Pen’s were gonna relocate it wasn’t based on attendance , although we have had our era’s time period’s of poor attendance , that is definitely a thing of the past that won’t happen in this city again – Penguins get mad support and Pittsburgh as well as Philly are growing into very legitimate Hockey Towns (srry Detroit) although living in da burgh and going to Philly ALOT!!! PGH’s a little further along in the rooting process … And Alot supportive of our Club when they may not be doing what a team from this town should be doing .. Playing smash mouth “D” and being the last team standing at the end of whatever season were in … That’s the expectation year in year … City Champions … Have a great 1 and hope you get to enjoy the playoffs this season my cross state brother … 👊

  3. nashernation - Apr 7, 2013 at 2:06 AM

    To be fare Vipers,I have to disagree with you. I’ve always loved the agitators of the game but Cooke is a dirty paler. Ill give you the last two years he has a cleaned it up a bit but his history of cheap shots is historic in this league.

    • wettwork - Apr 7, 2013 at 8:33 AM

      I can name a Matt Cooke on just about every team in the NHL some teams have more than1 , Penguins Cookie is just maybe delivered a couple more shocking/career ending hits which I’m sure wasn’t his intentions , our team gets its share of Dirty shots/hits/muggings we , I don’t see any calling out any the other teams “dirty” players the thing is though Matt Cooke is a helluva grinder and can burry the puck also in closing incase whoever may be reading this doesn’t already know The Flyers Suck . 😜

  4. nashernation - Apr 7, 2013 at 2:08 AM


  5. salsendardo - Apr 7, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    All of you sound like a bunch of 12 year olds arguing on the playground.

  6. markeatonslits - Apr 7, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    cant wait until cooke ends fraud griouxs career. heres hoping. jealousy since 1975

  7. r4n6er - Apr 8, 2013 at 7:03 PM

    WOW. Pens and Flyers fans sure hate each other…

  8. jb8383 - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    This coming from the guy who covered the puck with his hand in the playoffs last year which sparked a new rule this season saying you cannot do that in your own zone. So yeah I believe he was bracing himself, sure.

  9. flyboys12 - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Every team is dirty to a degree. Does this it look intentional…eh? Both player’s time was off. It looks like Del Zotto braced, but because the timing was off Neal rolled onto Del Zotto’s back and into his elbow. If you watch any decent hit/collision, arms usually come up on both players to balace themselves. If Del Zotto truly meant it, you would see his arm move back to make contact, but it stays put IMO.

    Look at the Matt Cooke incident with Karlsson. Both of their arms came up, but Cooke was off balance and his leg came up and down onto Karlsson’s calf. Unfortunate, but I give Cooke the benefit of doubt in that case. Same with Del Zotto. Unfortunate yes, but illegal, no.

    • flyboys12 - Apr 9, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      cancel out that “but illegal” and insert “suspension worthy”. Work’s killing me.

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