Kukla's Korner Hockey
by @DaveDavisHockey on 10/17/10 at 12:47 PM ET
You have to wonder if all of the pundits who trashed Colin Campbell for allowing the suspension of Niklas Hjalmarsson to end in time for the Blackhawks-Sabres rematch are feeling a little silly right now.
The Sabres went into Chicago last night and concentrated more on playing hockey and less on exacting revenge. So much less that they even took a flyer on engaging Hjalmarsson in the typical obligatory early first period now-this-will-settle-things fight. Patrick Kaleta was credited with two hits, and there were no fighting majors in the game, which Chicago won 4-3.
This turn of events comes as no surprise to the many wise hockey fans who have seen these situations too many times before. For all of the hype that precluded the rematch, this game had all the makings of - well, just another hockey game.
For starters, Campbell had sent out a warning to Kaleta and his teammates that the Wheel of Discipline was still in service and that he wouldn’t be afraid to spin it harder. And second, it’s no secret around the league that the Sabres collectively just don’t have the personality for such ugly fisticuff-filled affairs.
Recent results notwithstanding, this group is still built for speed and skating. On a night when the Sabres wouldn’t have been faulted for engaging in a team bonding exercise of playing an angry hockey game and making a statement, the players considered to be their top five forwards garnered a grand total of zero hits. Campbell may be known for making some interesting disciplinary decisions, but you can’t blame him for not losing sleep over letting Hjalmarsson play in this game.
The two game suspension, Hjalmarsson’s previously clean record, and Buffalo’s own issues trying to end an ugly losing skid were enough to keep them focused on just playing a solid hockey game, and with no other meetings between the two clubs on the schedule this season, it’s pretty safe to say that the case is now closed.
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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.
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