Penguins right winger James Neal says he wasn’t attempting to injure Boston’s Brad Marchand when he kneed him in the head Saturday night, but accepts the five-game suspension he was assessed for delivering that blow.
“It’s not the smartest decision I ever made, looking back on it,” Neal said after the Penguins’ practice at Consol Energy Center today. “I’m glad he’s OK, but going forward, I need to learn from it.
“It’s something I can’t do, and I know that. I have to respect what the NHL has done and put it behind me and move forward.”
Neal hit Marchand in the head while Marchand was on the ice during the first period of the Penguins’ 3-2 loss at TD Garden.
He acknowledged that blows to the head are “something we’re trying to get out of the game,” and said that, “I have to be smarter and control my emotions a lot better.”
Neal has served one game of his five-game suspension. He is eligible to return when the Penguins face Minnesota Dec. 19 at Consol Energy Center.