This is not the time to call into question the actions of Colin Campbell, particularly given that he is grieving the death of his mother over the weekend.
After all, the fact that neither Alex Ovechkin nor Dwayne Roloson was suspended for his actions this Saturday was not simply due to the whims of Campbell, the NHL’s top disciplinarian. It is, however, due in large part to a hockey culture that accepts violent acts as commonplace and a players’ association that often looks out more for the offender than the aggrieved player.
How else can you explain why neither player was suspended for what he did Saturday? Both acts were heinous and potentially very serious, but both players escaped without supplementary discipline after a review.
In the Washington Capitals game Saturday night, Ovechkin drilled Daniel Briere from behind a good two seconds after Briere had dumped the puck into the zone and was clearly headed to his bench for a line change. When asked about it on an NHL conference call Monday afternoon, even Ovechkin had trouble getting his story straight.
He originally said the hit was an accident. Then he went on to say that Briere turned and Ovechkin didn’t have time to let up. But when pressed about what was accidental about the hit, Ovechkin said: Â“My contact was not an accident. I just saw (Briere’s) back and hit him.Â”
Well, if Ovechkin saw Briere’s back and hit him, then why did he say Briere turned on him? When asked exactly why he did it, Ovechkin responded by saying: Â“I can’t answer this question because it is a game. You know, I don’t know.Â”
So now that we’ve established that its all right to drill a guy from behind, knock his helmet off and almost plow his face into an open door to the bench, things are very clear now.
Apologists will say that Ovechkin didn’t hit Briere that hard and Briere was back a couple of shifts later to play in the game. That’s not the point. Players are responsible for what they do with their sticks, so they should be held accountable for what they do with their bodies.
Of course, we’ve also established that it’s also just fine to spear a guy in the testicles if he’s standing anywhere near the crease, because that’s exactly what Roloson did to Rick Nash Saturday night and ended up receiving a minor penalty for slashing. Don’t worry, though, the Blue Jackets scored on the power play and won the game.
We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, this is a league where a defenseman (Bryan Allen) can two hand an opponent (Henrik Zetterberg) across the knee, break his leg and get two games for doing it.
YOUNG AMERICAN?: San Jose Sharks 19-year-old defensemen Marc-Edouard Vlasic won’t be playing for the Canadian team at the World Junior Championship because he’s too valuable to the Sharks.
And as far as Sharks coach Ron Wilson is concerned, that just gives him more time to convince Vlasic to play for the Americans in international hockey. Vlasic’s father is American, meaning Vlasic could suit up for USA if he chose to do so.
Still with San Jose, one of the unsung heroes for the Sharks is goaltending coach Warren Strelow, who helped develop Miikka Kiprusoff into one of the league’s top goalies and is currently working with Vesa Toskala and Evgeni Nabokov, who have backstopped the Sharks to the best goals-against average in the league.
Strelow, who recently had a kidney transplant, goes out on the ice with a scooter to work with the goalies.
Â“He putters around at about two miles an hour in that thing,Â” Wilson said. Â“I’ve put Ricky Bobby stickers all over it.Â”
JACKETS AND 49: Interesting bit of trivia when it comes to the Blue Jackets. Going into Wednesday night’s game against Colorado, they had been shut out 49 times in 835 games in franchise history. They also have just 49 wins in 217 road games since joining the league in 2000.