The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/10/11 at 12:29 AM ET
I blame this all on Charlie Sheen. It’s as if we’re all personally upset that we have to worry about Fukushima, or Bin Laden, bigotry in hockey or even Jeremy Roenick having a hissy fit about a former teammate—in the words of Chris Chelios, when Roenick insisted that Chelios and Wings coach Mike Babcock couldn’t stand each other during the 2008 Western Conference Finals against Chicago, “J.R.‘s being J.R.”—and we’ve really gotten to the point of the season where the players are weary, the media’s jet-lagged, over-worked full of frayed nerves and running out of ideas for the stories they’re required to pump out on an all-too-immediate basis (some of the questions in post-game press conferences are jaw-droppingly doofy these days, but I can’t blame ‘em), and it seems like before speaking, we all might as well count to ten because there isn’t a slight too simple not to be blown up like ice shavings in Jimmy Howard’s face.
Today’s hockey snipe-fest that you may not have known about came after Team Canada defeated Sweden 3-2 at the World Championships. Canadian captain Rick Nash may or may not have left his feet to hit Mikael Backlund, and when Swedish journalist and kinda-sorta-blowhard Leif Boork tried to get into a rhetorical fight with Canadian coach Ken Hitchcock after the game, what serves for fireworks these days ensued, as noted by the Canadian Press’s Chris Johnston:
Hitchcock also displayed a fighting spirit during a heated post-game exchange with Leif Boork, a former Swedish national team coach who now writes a newspaper column. Boork felt Canadian captain Rick Nash delivered a blindside hit on Mikael Backlund late in the second period and Hitchcock didn’t agree with his assessment.
“I thought it was a good hit, you thought it was a bad hit, so ask another question — we’re not going to debate it,” Hitchcock said before walking out of the press conference.
Just like that, a tournament that had been off to a sleepy start felt like it had some intrigue. Next up for the Canadian team is a flight to Bratislava on Tuesday and a do-or-die game against the Russians at the Orange Arena on Thursday (TSN, 2:15 p.m. ET). Before then, they’ll learn if the IIHF wants to further discipline Nash for his huge open-ice hit on Backlund. The captain received a two-minute penalty for charging on the play and felt that it was sufficient punishment.
“I don’t know if I left my feet or what it was, but I might have a bit,” said Nash. “It’s tough to put people in that situation but he kind of just watched his pass and had his head down.”
Swedish coach Par Marts disagreed.
“I think the hit on Backlund should give him a game misconduct, it was a blindside hit,” he told reporters in Swedish. “I hope the IIHF disciplinary committee will review the hit.”
If you’re interested, Boork’s employer, Expressen, put the incident on its front page (be careful: as it’s a European tabloid newspaper at heart, some clicks might send you to pages that aren’t safe for North American work), and after Nash gave Mattias Ek the old, “I was finishing my check” line—or something similar to it, Ek reports that things got a little harrier than you’d think (and all of this is roughly translated):
Question: “Mr. Hitchcock, my name is Leif Boork, from Sweden. What did you think about Rick Nash’s check on Mikael Backlund?”
Ken Hitchcock: “It was a good check.”
Boork: “It was a hit the player couldn’t see [coming].”
Hitchcock: “I don’t think so.”
Boork: “I think so. Isn’t that a bad example for a team captain?”
Hitchock: “This is why you’re with the press and I’m a coach. I think it was a good check. You think it was a bad check. Next question. I’m not going to debate this.”
Boork: “Do you think that the disciplinary committee will look at the check?”
Hitchcock: “They can do whatever they want.”
Boork: “I think it sets a poor example when the team captain does that.”
Then Canada’s PR coordinator, Andre Brin, inserted himself into the duel and rebuked Boork.
Brin: “Are these questions or opinions, which one?” said Brin, sharply.
“What would [Hitchcock] have done if this happened to (Sidney) Crosby?”
Brin “Next question…No more questions from this gentleman.”
Boork: “So you’ll decide which questions I can ask?”
Brin: “I work for Team Canada. We’re done here. Thank you very much.”
Ken Hitchcock left his seat beside [team Sweden coach] Per Marts and left the press conference with the Canadian PR coordinator. A collection of stunned reporters had a story to write about before the World Championship playoffs start [on Tuesday].
Then Boork made the following statement to Expressen’s Ek and Lars Wiklund:
“It’s really unprofessional, you’d expect one of the world’s best hockey countries to be able to handle critical questions, but they apparently can’t.”
No word as to whether anybody stamped their feet and said, “I’m rubber and you’re glue,” nor was there much discussion about the actual hit after the Hitchcock-Boork exchange.
Hockey in May…Again, I blame this on Charlie Sheen.
And we all need a time-out, if not a nap or three, so that we can calm down and keep our focus on what happens on the ice, because that’s what matters.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.