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Archive for March, 2011

Mar
21

The NHL announced Monday that Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke has been suspended for ten games (the rest of the season) and the first round of the playoffs for elbowing New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the face on Sunday. Cooke only recently returned from a previous suspension in February for another headshot.

Because Cooke is a repeat offender, he will forfeit $219,512.20 in salary which will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. His updated suspension history is as follows:

                                                                      Games
Date                           Infraction                  suspended

March 2, 2011            Elbowing                         17
Feb. 11, 2011            Hit from behind                 4
Nov. 29, 2009            Check to head                  2
Jan. 27, 2009             Hit to head                       2
Feb. 21, 2004            Spearing                           2

Many wonder why the reckless forward would blatantly hit a player knowing that everyone around the league is watching him especially because at the General Managers Meeting last week, both Penguins GM Ray Shero and owner Mario Lemieux demanded that players be held accountable and given harsher punishment for headshots. Of course, their complaints were as a result of losing team captain Sidney Crosby to a concussion. Now the Penguins have to accept the punishment which they demanded. Let’s see how they move forward from here.

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Mar
21

Monday, the NHL named Montreal Canadiens defenseman PK Subban “Third Star of the Week” for scoring his first career hat trick Sunday against the Minnesota Wild. The rookie also had 1 assist for 4 points. Goalie Jose Theodore started the game for the Wild but was replaced by Niklas Backstrom with three minutes left in the second period when Subban scored his second goal to make it 6-0 Habs. He scored the third goal of his hat trick just over one minute into the third period, and the Habs went on to win 8-1.

Subban is the first Habs rookie defenseman to score a hat trick and was also named the “Compuware Second Star of the Night,” but he wasn’t the only rookie to score his first career hat trick Sunday night. The other rookie was Blake Geoffrion, who was named the “Compuware First Star of the Night.”

Geoffrion’s story is particularly amazing because he’s not only the first fourth-generation NHLer, but he’s also the third generation of one family to score an NHL hat trick. His father Danny Geoffrion never scored a hat trick during his NHL career, but both his grandfather Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion and great grandfather Howie Morenz – both members of the Hall of Fame – scored hat tricks during their NHL careers. Yes, Blake’s great grandfather is THAT Howie Morenz, the player who many say died of a broken heart after learning that because his left leg was so severely broken, he’d never skate again.

The Morenz-Geoffrion family has 100 years of excellence in the NHL, and Blake’s milestone hat trick did his family proud. It certainly is an amazing story.

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Mar
15

From the broadcast booth at NHL Network’s “NHL Live” on-site at the annual NHL General Managers’ Meetings in Boca Raton, FL, Commissioner Gary Bettman told hosts yesterday that the players had no complaints and were very happy with the current state of hockey. However, GMs and players have been voicing their concerns to the media about headshots, boarding, and suspension issues. With the commissioner saying there have been no complaints and the GMs and players voicing concerns, it makes one wonder which is true.

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Mar
09

It comes as no surprise to this hockey fan that Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara received no suspension for the hit he put on Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. After all, Chara is one of the NHL’s darlings and the captain of his team, which always gives players of that caliber a free pass when it comes to penalties for infractions.

Chara may not have intentionally driven Max Pacioretty’s head into the stanchion. However, Chara needs to show some restraint when roughing up shorter players. At 6 feet 9 inches, the defenseman is the tallest player in the league and should know by now that what might be a simple hit by a man 7 inches shorter than he is could be a career-ending blow on his part. Time and again, sports writers say, “Chara’s a big man. If he lifts his elbows, he can’t help but hit someone in the head. He shouldn’t be penalized for his size.” Well, maybe he shouldn’t but if he’s not responsible for the consequences of size, then maybe he should be playing in the NBA where men his size is prevalent. Chara, defenseman Chris Pronger (Philadelphia Flyers) and goalie Ben Bishop (St. Louis Blues) are all over 6 foot 5 inches tall, and anyone who exceeds by 6 to 12 inches the height of all but perhaps four other players in the league needs to be aware that his hits could cause severe damage.

By not suspending Chara for at least one or two games, the NHL has once again sent the message that if a player is generally liked and the hit was deemed unintentional, there are no consequences for his actions. Call it an accident, unintentional, or a lapse in judgment. It all equals the same thing: a player lying in the hospital. Luckily, Pacioretty wasn’t paralyzed. The best case scenario is that he will fully recover from the concussion and broken cervical vertebra and be able to play next season.

What infuriates this writer is not just the fact that once again the league got it wrong but the fact that by his own comments, Chara doesn’t seem to show much remorse for his actions. In discussing his feelings about the hit, Chara said, “It’s just one of those things…like glass extensions, doors, even hockey nets are part of the game and obviously players run into them. It’s just very, very unfortunate that a player got hurt.”

First of all, it’s offensive that Chara didn’t refer to his victim by name. That “player” has a name and if Chara doesn’t know Pacioretty’s name by now, the least he could do is to learn it. Second, nowhere does there seem to be the word “sorry” or “apologize” in his comments. In saying that it was “unfortunate” and “just one of those things,” Chara divorces himself from any sense of fault or blame. It’s as if some unseen force just hurtled Pacioretty into the stanchion and Chara had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

As one hockey insider pointed out, part of the reason the league has declined to level any supplemental punishment against Chara is because it could hurt the Bruins’ playoff run if their captain and number one defenseman were out for a few games. This is reminiscent of the playoffs last season where Chara received a major penalty and an automatic one-game suspension which was rescinded by league disciplinarian Colin Campbell because he didn’t want the Bruins to be forced to play without Chara.

Some insiders feel that it’s not fair for the league to continue to fine players for brutal hits because the fines impact the players’ income, but isn’t that the idea – to create a deterrent? It’s a reflection of the society in which we live that the victim gets an “oh well…” and the perpetrator gets a free pass. How else are players going to learn that there are consequences for their actions (whether intentional or just plain stupid) if they aren’t penalized? Perhaps the league just doesn’t care about the little guy and is more concerned with the stars of the sport. Whichever is the case, it sends the wrong message that if a player is likeable but stupid, it doesn’t matter who he hurts.

– CeeCee

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Mar
09

Yet another brutal hit was delivered last night during an NHL game. Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens was skating up the boards in front of the Boston Bruins bench when Bruins captain Zdeno Chara drove Pacioretty head-first into the stanchion which separates the two players’ benches. Pacioretty was taken by stretcher from the ice after he lay motionless and unconscious for several minutes.

Following the hit, Chara received a five-minute major for interference because Pacioretty had passed the puck long before the hit. Chara also received a game misconduct with 16 seconds left in the second period. At the time, the Canadiens were leading 4-0.

During the third period, it was announced that at the hospital the 22-year-old forward was able to move his limbs, which was encouraging news. This morning, the Habs released an update on Pacioretty’s condition stating that he suffered a severe concussion and a fractured fourth cervical vertebra.

Today, the NHL’s disciplinary committee held an investigation into the incident but at this posting had yet to announce if there will be any further punishment handed down to Chara. What could influence its decision is the severity of Pacioretty’s injuries as well as a previous suspension which Chara reportedly received a few years ago. What might also be considered is the fact that Pacioretty and Chara have a history this season. After scoring the winner in overtime against Boston on Jan. 8, Pacioretty celebrated by skating behind the Bruins’ net and shoving Chara in the back as he passed him. Chara retaliated and it led to a line brawl.

Whenever the league’s decision is rendered, it will be reported here. Stay tuned for an update.

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