Kukla's Korner Hockey
I learned something this morning while glancing at page 4 of the LA Times Sports section: not only is hockey still played professionally but the team from Anaheim is actually in the Stanley Cup Finals. Who knew? And the game is on NBC tonight.
I don’t know a single guy who plays for the Ducks (apparently they dropped the “Mighty” from their official name) but I’m going to watch. Hopefully a lot of other people will too, because hockey really deserves more respect than it’s currently getting….
Why the Times can’t give a (sort of) local team that is 2 wins away from the championship better coverage than page 4 is also a mystery (but just one of many mysteries at the Times). [Note: below the fold on page 1 of the sports page thee is a column about a guy named Pronger who plays for the Ducks, but the actual series coverage is buried on Page 4.]
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Niedermayer and Beauchemin will probably both approach 35 minutes in ice-time, about five minutes more than what Niedermayer is accustomed to, while O’Donnell will be well into the 20s. But at this point in the season, Carlyle is not worried about wearing anyone out.
“I would liken it to putting all the bullets in the gun,” Carlyle said. “You can’t put any in the holster at this time. There’s four games left in the series. That’s four games left in the season and you’re going to utilize all the personnel you see fit.
“Are you going to worry about overusing someone? You worry about tonight.”
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
They call it playing on the edge.
But it’s getting awfully close to slitting their own throats.
The Ducks have now received three suspensions in these playoffs – two to Pronger and one to winger Brad May. They’ve had to defend against 5-on-3 situations on 13 occasions, including three in this series, and have had only one such advantage themselves. They’ve been short-handed 18 times in the Cup final while enjoying 11 power plays.
If the Ducks don’t win the Stanley Cup it won’t be because they weren’t good enough.
It will be because they threw it all away to prove they’re the meanest SOBs on the block.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
No one in the Anaheim Ducks dressing room will utter a disparaging word against Pronger. The man, on many nights, is a machine. He is averaging more than 30 minutes of ice time a game in these playoffs. He is second among NHL defensemen with 14 playoff points.
And yet for the second time in recent days, he has put his team in the unenviable position of having to play without him because he seems to have switched off that common-sense detector most humans rely on to prevent them from crossing “the line.”
On some level in that dressing room, players must be asking where Pronger’s selflessness is. Having been suspended once, Pronger surely had to know any other transgression was going to be viewed with disapproval by the league regardless whether it was as serious as the Holmstrom hit.
Q. How much different does it make your decision or more difficult to suspend a key player in a Stanley Cup Final game even as opposed to the Pronger suspension last round?
COLIN CAMPBELL: Well, both rounds are difficult; you’re getting it close, but obviously the final round is a very difficult round to take any player out of, and there’s no prescribed or defined degree of change as far as the act to suspend players in the final round.
I suspended two players in the past. (Ville) Nieminen in the Calgary-Tampa Bay series for hitting (Vincent) Lecavalier and (Jiri) Fischer in the Detroit-Carolina series for a cross-check, each for one game.
It’s always difficult for everyone involved in hockey. We all know how precious it is to chase the Stanley Cup and to be at this point. And it’s a tough decision to make. We don’t take these things lightly at any time; we don’t take them lightly, but particularly now.
So it was hard. But on the other hand, a player did get knocked out. And that player may not be playing tomorrow night, too. We’re not sure.
“It was just a reaction play. I just stepped up to make a hit,” Pronger told reporters. “You’ve got to suffer the consequences of what came down. ... Hopefully, Dean’s OK. There’s no ill-will or malicious intent.”
While Ducks general manager Brian Burke said he would accept the Pronger suspension, he was livid over a Chris Neil hit to Ducks forward Andy McDonald. Burke said there should have been a second hearing on Sunday.
“We’re not a dirty team, we’re a physical team,” Burke said. “There’s a big difference.”
“We think it was totally unintentional. The league thought different,” Carlyle said. “Chris Pronger is a competitive player. Some people will say he’s using his size as an excuse.
“The fact of the matter is his elbows are higher than most people’s elbows. It’s not like he raised his elbow to deliver a blow to the head.”
added 3:35pm, Transcript of inteview with Pronger, Carlyle and Burke…
The NHL has come down on the Ducks’ Chris Pronger for the second time in the 2007 Stanley Cup playoffs.
The league has suspended Pronger for one game for a shot to the head Ottawa Senators’ Dean McAmmond during Game 3 on Saturday.
Pronger had a hearing with the NHL’s director of hockey operations Colin Campbell on Sunday.
“A variety of factors were considered in reaching this decision,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell. “Mr. Pronger used his forearm to deliver a forceful hit to the head of his opponent. Also, his actions caused injury to his opponent.”
added 2:58pm, The Ottawa Senators P.R. department put together some quotes from those involved on the Sens side…
from The Maven,
Best of all, instead of beefing as his counterpart, Bryan Murray, certainly would have, Carlyle refused to whine about the result or the zebras’ collective astigmatism….
Legal or not, the goal should not detract from the Senators comeback from the Land of Chokes.
They could have—should have—won Games One and Two but failed because of lethargy and lousy goaltending.
Ray Emery’s ineptitude could have killed them again in Game Three but…
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
If they don’t learn their lesson now, if the Ducks don’t take to heart their admission that they take too many needless penalties, they will look back in anger in a week or two from now as the Senators hoist the Stanley Cup.
It may be too late because Chris Pronger again blurred the line between aggression and stupidity when he dealt a vicious elbow to the head of Ottawa forward Dean McAmmond two minutes and three seconds into the third period, creating the possibility that he will be suspended for Game 4 on Monday….
The NHL takes a dim view on hits to the head, as evidenced by its decision to suspend Pronger for a game after the hit on Holmstrom. Pronger had tried to explain it as the inevitable consequence of a 6-foot-6 player hitting a 6-foot-1 opponent, but the league didn’t buy it.
Asked if he was concerned about facing disciplinary action again, Pronger became tight-lipped. “I don’t know,” he said.
more (reg. req.)
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
After all, when the all-star Ducks defenceman was suspended for his blindside head shot on Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom in the Western Conference final, he blamed the Canadian media for being banished from the series for a game.
Today, you have to figure Pronger’s conspiracy antennae will be on amber alert, given that he’ll be waking up this morning in the nation’s capital after his cheap shot elbow knocked out Dean McAmmond of the Senators in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final last night.
Good luck generating any sympathy this time.
Geez, he might even have to blame himself if, as is certainly possible, he gets suspended again and in so doing really helps the Senators get back into the best-of-seven series.
If you missed the hit on McAmmond….
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org