If you ever want to see a file cabinet hurled across a cubicle, visit The Hockey News office the morning after a controversial hit. Like any group of sports enthusiasts, we are a collection of hawks and doves and the glories of YouTube have only served to prolong our debates into mini-Warren Commissions (See? Lidstrom’s head went back and to the left!).
I bring this up because as one of the hawks of the office and someone who was at the Ottawa-Toronto game last night, I maintain the Mark Bell clock-cleaning of Daniel Alfredsson was legal.
Even the morning after, with many camera angles and zoom lenses consulted, contact between the Leafs power forward and the Sens captain is clearly shoulder-to-shoulder. Bell’s glove may hit Alfie’s face, but the damage appears to have been done when Alfredsson’s head hit the ice.
After the game, coach Bryan Murray said Bell “blindsided” Alfredsson. Obviously Ottawa fans and media will point this out in their protest, but this hit was a carbon copy of Chris Neil’s infamous check on Buffalo’s Chris Drury, with much less elbow.
And I know Murray is defending his most valuable player, but his statement that Bell went after Alfredsson’s knee and head at the same time is hysterical. How is that even physically possible? Has Mark Bell discovered the secrets to The Matrix?
If any issue is going to be raised in this situation, it’s the fact Alfredsson’s helmet came off. Like Ryan Smyth, a tighter chinstrap would have helped him a lot.
As a rather amusing sidebar to what was a seriously poisonous game (other than most of the second period, which was oddly pastoral), when Pavel Kubina checked Neil into the turnbuckle in the third period, he was given four minutes for interference and unsportsmanlike conduct.
Now, Neil had just dished off the puck, so it was in no way interference, but it was a super-smart move by the officials; the game was all but over at the time and by giving Kubina four, it ensured Neil wouldn’t have a chance to attack him (which he tried to do after the game, anyway).
The look on Neil’s face when he realized it was Kubina who hit him and that he wouldn’t get a chance at retribution was priceless. It was like someone had knocked an entire birthday cake out of his hands.
Finally, as much as I love scrapping, the fight between Philly’s Riley Cote and Pittsburgh’s Georges Laraque Thursday was so bush league I gotta call Cote out.
If you haven’t seen it, the two lined up next to each other on a faceoff. We all knew what was going to happen. But when the puck was dropped, Philly’s center won the draw and the puck landed on Cote’s stick.
Laraque had already dropped his stick and gloves and backed up into fighting position. But Cote, instead of, say, skating past him for a scoring opportunity or at least a holding penalty, immediately shot the puck away, dropped his stick and went at it with Laraque.
It seriously looked like Cote had never seen a puck in his life and as if the small black disc was getting in his way.