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Bergeron could miss month or more

Jones's 2-game suspension not long enough, says agent

WILMINGTON - Every Bruin except center Patrice Bergeron got back to the business of playing hockey yesterday, hours before the NHL suspended Flyers defenseman Randy Jones for two games.

The 22-year-old Bergeron was at home, resting and recovering after surviving a hit from behind from Jones during the first period of Saturday's 2-1 loss to Philadelphia, a collision with the endboards that left him unconscious on the ice for 45 seconds.

According to general manager Peter Chiarelli, Bergeron has been diagnosed with a Grade 3 concussion, the most severe type. There is no timetable on Bergeron's return to the lineup, though Chiarelli said Grade 3 concussions usually mean a month or more of recovery time. It was the first concussion Bergeron sustained as a pro.

"He has a very stiff neck and a very bad headache," said Chiarelli, who went to Massachusetts General Hospital with coach Claude Julien after the loss to see Bergeron. "We spoke with his parents and they were really upset. I would imagine they'll be upset for a while. His face was beat up pretty good. You see a player like that go down, you feel concern, you feel anger. You look at the replay a thousand times and you see the history of that team this year. But you have to let the league deal with it."

Jones's two-game suspension is far shorter than suspensions handed out to Philadelphia forwards Jesse Boulerice (25 games) and Steve Downie (20 games) recently. Boulerice cross-checked Vancouver forward Ryan Kesler in the face Oct. 10. During a preseason game, Downie left his skates and drilled Ottawa's Dean McAmmond, leaving the forward with a concussion. Jones will sit out against Montreal Thursday and against Washington Friday.

Chiarelli was not available for comment about the suspension. Kent Hughes, Bergeron's agent, was disappointed by the league's ruling.

"If you're caught for reckless driving and injure somebody, it doesn't matter what your prior record is," said Hughes, referring to Jones's lack of a history of undisciplined play. "You're going to be in trouble."

Hughes said that Bergeron, who is suffering from post-concussion syndrome, felt worse yesterday than he did Sunday when he was released from Mass. General, although he said such reaction is normal among concussion patients.

Hughes said Bergeron felt nauseous and drained by simple activity. The agent said Bergeron was alert yesterday and was conversing with parents Gerard Cleary and Sylvie Bergeron, who were in attendance Saturday and remained in town.

His parents had planned to attend an event scheduled for tonight at Children's Hospital. Bergeron was to be named a Champion Award recipient, an honor awarded annually to a Boston athlete who exemplifies outstanding commitment to the community. Bergeron is involved in Patrice's Pals, a program that allows children from local hospitals to attend Bruins games at the Garden in his private suite. It is unknown whether Bergeron will attend tonight's event.

After a day off, the Bruins returned to practice yesterday with Saturday's incident still fresh in their minds.

"Every time I see it, it looks worse," said Marc Savard. "There was no holdup at all."

Word from the Flyers locker room was that Jones's hit was unintentional.

"If that's the words they used," Savard said, "it's a tough one to swallow. He made the hit. I don't see stretchers out there at every game. We're probably going to lose a guy here for a month . . . so if he gets two or three games [suspension], it seems like a little."

After the suspension was announced, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said: "I'm disappointed. I think it is a situation that we see - minus the injury to Patrice Bergeron - I think we see quite often."

Jones thought his hit didn't warrant a two-game suspension but said he respected the decision. "I think [NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell] saw my point of view where this was not intentional," he said. "This was just a freak accident which unfortunately resulted in an injury."

Savard was upset that Jones did not respect an opponent in a vulnerable position.

"We've got to get back to some kind of respect," Savard said. "It's the players; maybe we need some kind of sitdown among the players. Maybe not about this incident, but maybe somebody needs to get kicked out. We need to start respecting guys more."

Bergeron is second on the team in scoring (3 goals, 4 assists in 10 games) to Savard.

"You hate to see your teammate go down being hurt," said captain Zdeno Chara. "Now we have to fill that spot. Hopefully he can recover good and fast. The priority is his health."

Yesterday, Phil Kessel moved back to his natural center position between Marco Sturm and Chuck Kobasew. The Bruins do not play until Thursday, and have time to experiment with combinations. Brandon Bochenski returned to the Bruins after a two-game conditioning stint in Providence, and worked with Peter Schaefer and Glen Metropolit.

"I thought we had a good practice today," said Julien. "The guys competed well. No doubt it means certain players have to step up and pick up the slack left by the absence of Bergeron. We're going to be tested in our [versatility]. Very seldom do you go through a whole year without injuries."

Bergeron's injuries, however, are the kind that are unexpected and unacceptable.

"It's one of those hits that you don't want to see in this game," said Julien. "I'm just thankful Bergie is doing better; it could have been a lot worse. There's no doubt in my mind someone was looking over him."

According to Hughes, Bergeron's doctors believed his visor absorbed some of the energy of the collision. Had Bergeron not been wearing a visor, his face would have been driven directly into the boards.

"He's lucky," said Hughes.

Barbara Matson can be reached at; Fluto Shinzawa of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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