Whined JR, "[I]t indicates the state of our game, the lack of respect - especially in pre-season. It is uncalled for. It is ridiculous - one of the reasons our game isn't as good as it once was. There is no respect for people in this league. It was not a cheap hit, it was a good solid hit. But you don't do that in pre-season.'' Roenick added that the check was ''disrespectful'' to a veteran player.
Gauthier subsequently defended himself: "It's a physical game. . . . This is my first year with a new team, and I'm fighting for a spot in the rotation.''
Now, the Rink loves a good sound bite almost as much as a good hit, but JR couldn't be more in the wrong here. As we noted yesterday, this comes from the guy about whom the following was penned: "It's become an unwritten rule that there are no bodychecks in the All-Star games, but it's become tradition for Roenick to deliver one check." Now Roenick is complaining about an admittedly clean hit in a meaningful (for some) game.
But now the height of stupidity from one of the League's littlest big mouths, Sean Avery, in defense of his new teammate Roenick: "I think it was typical of most French guys in our league with a visor on, running around and playing tough and not back anything up." For Avery, this isn't a preseason/regular season issue or a veteran/younger player issue, but an ethnic one. In Avery's NHL, players would only be allowed to make contact with an opposing player if they were willing to drop the gloves to "back up" their clean hits.
This isn't the first time Avery's mouth has stirred up controversy.
During the NHL lockout, he told Toronto sports radio The Fan 590 that he wouldn't mind the possibility of dropping NHL teams and jobs at the expense of players from overseas.
"I think they can eliminate a lot of Europeans who are mediocre and are taking a lot of jobs," Avery told The Fan 590 in February.
With 17 career goals, Avery should be careful tossing around the word "mediocre," but skill isn't in his job description - agitating opponents is. Avery has good reason to be worried about jobs, as in the new NHL, with its emphasis on speed and skill and the salary cap, there are fewer and fewer spots available for Avery-type players. And if he's going to throw around ethnic insults and xenophobic idiocy, the sooner the League is rid of him, the better.
Side note: Say what you want about Roenick (and we do and will), but the guy can shake a leg (go to about 2:50 of this clip).