I'd also like to take the opportunity to introduce KB as a Rink contributor. Have at it, Ken. - JP]
Given all of the discussion about the Colton Orr/Todd Fedoruk shot heard round the world, it was little surprise that the Hockey Night In Canada (HNIC) pre-game show would focus on fighting in the NHL. Beginning with an interview with Detroit winger Todd Bertuzzi, followed by a chippy conversation between HNIC Host Ron MacLean and NHL Senior VP Colin Campbell, and ending with a Sun Tzu-themed intro to the Buffalo/Toronto game, violence was Topic A.
In the interview, a stoic Bertuzzi disclosed that Florida did not offer him a new contract “nor did they ever intend to.” Wings' head coach Mike Babcock was optimistic about his team’s acquisition of Bertuzzi. Babcock defended the move and the wisdom of offering him a third chance in Detroit by saying, “In my coaching career I’ve done and said a lot of stupid things.” And when asked whether he had changed as a person since the incident in Vancouver, the ever contrite Bertuzzi responded, “I’m still me.”
The usually patient and prudent Ron MacLean was downright feisty in his 15-minute interview with Colin Campbell. MacLean expressed open disbelief (“You’ve got to be kidding”) at hearing that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has “never talked about whether fighting should be in the game or should not be in the game,” dismissed the league’s solution of having the Competition Committees look into banning fighting as a “cop-out,” and accused Coh-lin Campbell of resorting to “corporate speak” in trying to evade serious discussion. The CBC has an account here.
For many, the highlight of any Saturday night of hockey-watching is Don Cherry's “Coach's Corner,” and for these folks, Saturday night's segment did not disappoint. Wearing a necktie with doves and olive branches, the sartorially subtle Cherry made viewers aware of his inner pacifist while holding court. (Perhaps it was the peace cravate that prevented him from delivering his usual shout-out to the troops.) He defended his “friend,” Cah-lin Campbell, against MacLean's malice. (Alliteration abounds!) Grapes also came to the aid of beleaguered Leafs' goalie Andrew Raycroft saying, “You’re out of your mind blaming Raycroft. The Leafs are 28th in the league on the PK.” You can watch Coach's Corner, complete with an archival clip of a softer Cherry from 1991, and read a press account of his comments here.
[Ed. note: Chris Zelkovich from the Toronto Star reviews the performance in today's edition, 3/26.]
In the “Satellite Hot Stove” segment, Eric Duhatschek claimed that Jarome Iginla has flip-flopped on the instigator rule and now wants to see it removed. He also stated that Keith Primeau will ask that stick infractions be penalized as significantly as fighting infractions. In news about actual hockey, Duhatschek reports that Henrik Zetterberg is skating with the Red Wings and is on target to return next week. Red Wings’ coach Mike Babcock has spoken to Dominik Hasek about his Louganis against Calgary and they’ve reached an accord. (Apparently Leafs’ coach Paul Maurice isn’t nearly as agreeable, suggesting that Babcock is making “all of us coaches look bad by telling the truth.”)
Asked who will win this year’s Hart trophy, Scott Morrison said he was leaning toward Roberto Luongo, Pierre LeBrun believes Joe Thornton is making a strong case, and Duhatschek said it would be, “[Sidney] Crosby in a walk.”
Kelly Hrudey reported that Edmonton netminder Jussi Markkanen will not be returning to Edmonton next season. Hrudey also told of an unnamed professional scout who watched Nashville blueliner Shea Weber in Kelowna and predicted that the 2nd round pick (49th overall) will be a better player than Dion Phaneuf (1st round pick, ninth overall).
The CBC broadcast of the Leafs’ game
Lines of the Night:
- First star: “The Leafs’ coaches must be throwing up behind the bench right now.” - Harry Neale
- Second star: “We [Gary Bettman and I] have never discussed fighting in hockey.” - Colin Campbell
- Third star: “Zubov, Zubrus. Same thing.” - Don Cherry
Islanders' forwards Richard Zednik and Miroslav Satan are both listed as day-to-day for personal reasons. According to a Saturday afternoon post in the Newsday blog, Coach Ted Nolan referred to both players and said, “We’re a family-oriented team, and both guys are where they should be.”...Red Wings’ D Brett Lebda sustained a concussion and was taken off the ice on a stretcher after being checked into the glass by St. Louis' Ville Nieminen. He will be out 7-10 days... Thrashers’ F Jon Sim underwent surgery to repair a broken left orbital bone suffered in a fight with San Jose's Mark Bell and is out indefinitely... Dallas' D Stephane Robidas missed his fourth straight game and is expected to return to lineup within the next week... Capitals’ Ben Clymer will not return this season and will be undergoing sports hernia surgery this week... Detroit’s D Chris Chelios moved into ninth place on the NHL's career games list with 1,541, passing Johnny Bucyk... Pierre LeBrun reports that Jacques Martin has the inside track on coaching Team Canada in the 2007 World Championships...NY Rangers’ C Michael Nylander scored his 600th career NHL point against the Bruins... Flyers’ D Joni Pitkanen played in his 200th NHL game... Canadiens’ D Sheldon Souray played his 500th regular-season game and became the first Montreal defenseman to reach 60 points since Chelios had 73 points in 1988-89... Rick Vaive, Toronto’s first 50-goal scorer, was introduced to the ACC crowd to commemorate the 25-year anniversary of his feat... Vince Papale, former Philadelphia Eagle and the bio behind the Marky Mark pic, “Invincible,” visited New York's locker room after the game wearing an Islanders jersey... Buffalo is 33-0-0 this season when leading a game by two or more goals at any point... Pittsburgh has a winning record against every division this season except the Southeast... The Florida Panthers are 13-4-3 at home since Dec. 25th... Edmonton had its 73d consecutive sellout, dating back to Nov. 29, 2005... The Minnesota Wild set franchise records for home wins (26) and total points (97)... Four NHL games were decided in shootouts Saturday and the visiting team won each. The road teams have now moved into the lead (149-148) since the NHL adopted the shootout.
Sources: AP, CBC, Comcast, Elias Sports Bureau, FSN, NESN, OGP, SUN Sports, TSN