Monday, January 07, 2008

Now the Flyers are even becoming a danger to themselves…

Perhaps now the Philadelphia Flyers management will try to reign in some of their over exuberant employees. Saturday night’s session with the Toronto Maple Leafs found the Flyers moving their punishing play from the opposition to their own members.

Sami Kapanen had to leave the ice after suffering lip lacerations that required 25 stitches, that after he was struck with a puck on an attempted pass from team mate Mike Richards, even with the emergency stitching Kapenen must be considering himself lucky considering what happened to fellow Flyer Joffrey Lupul.

In the midst of what turned out to be a rather nasty little game at the Air Canada Centre Saturday, the Flyers Derian Hatcher launched himself at the Leafs Alex Steen, sending out what would have been a crushing body check if only Steen hadn’t of ducked, Steen who may or may not have seen his life flash in front of his eyes took more of a glancing blow rather than the full executioners crunch from Hatcher, who instead piled into team mate Joffrey Lupul.

Steen managed to skate away more or less unscathed from the experience, but the same can’t be said for Lupul. After examination on Sunday the Flyers announced that the Flyers winger would be lost indefinitely, possibly even for a number of months. Lupul will now sit on the injured list suffering from a spinal contusion and a concussion, the net sum of Hatcher’s attempt to slow down the Swede.

Friday night Hatcher made news when he allegedly bit the glove hand of the New Jersey Devils' Travis Zajac. According to the NHL the video shows that Zajac put his glove in Hatcher's mouth during a scrum, which then caught on one of Hatcher's incisors, cutting his middle finger. Suggesting that Hatcher was not the aggressor in the matter, the league did not provide any discipline for the incident.

While Lupul was clearing the cobwebs on Sunday and Hatcher perhaps brushing his team, their team mate Steve Downie was once again preparing for the latest announcement about him from NHL Chief Justice Colin Campbell. The encore performance by the league office came about after Downie sucker punched the Leafs Jason Blake during a skirmish on Saturday night. During the third period incident, Blake was being held by a linesman after yet another altercation, when Downie reached around and clocked him just under the right eye.

Blake was kept off the ice for the rest of the game Saturday as a precaution and while looking like something that might come out of Dr. Frankenstein’s lab, he did not suffer any major injuries from the punch that certainly fell outside of the Marquis of Queensbury rules. Downie was assessed a double minor for the infraction, a pair of penalties that didn’t sit well with the Leafs who were suggesting that a stronger punishment was required.

In his announcement on Monday Colin Campbell would however no doubt bring disappointment to the Leafs, Downie was not punished further by the league for his punch, but was told by Campbell that he’s now to be considered “on thin ice”.

A statement that does tend to make you wonder just what it is that Downie will have to do before the NHL tires of him and bids him a farewell. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, who spends a fair amount of his time now trying to quell the talk of a team full of goons, says that his discussion with Downie afterwards was even harsher than Campbell’s. Though there apparently will be no action on the part of the Flyers either, short of maybe or changing the pre game diet which we suspect must include some kind of raw meat products.

Downie while suggesting that he did receive Holmgren's message, then turned around and more or less blamed the Toronto media for making a bigger deal out of it all than it was really well, so much for his act of contrition we guess.

And while Holmgren tries to impress upon Downie of the need to play a little smarter, what we would really like to know is what Holmgren might have said to Hatcher, after all taking a mid game snack on Friday is one thing, but once you start knocking your own players out of the line up, perhaps you’re playing the game with just a little too much of an edge.

All in all, Saturday sure provided a pretty good example for the Flyers that perhaps that old Broad Street bullies image that they claim they're not trying to cultivate, is still lingering around the dressing room. Heck, we didn't even get to examine the thoughts of the once again injured Carlo Colaiacovo, who swears that the knee on knee collision with Jim Dowd may have been a dirty hit.

Ah, you just have to think that somewhere in the fibre of those fancy new Rbk Flyer unis rests the spirited old hockey DNA of Bob "Mad Dog" Kelly and Dave "The Hammer" Schultz.

Though, to be fair to the old guard of the seventies, to our memory they never actually took out the players on their own roster, content to keep the hostilities confined to the guys in the other sweaters.

Philadelphia Inquirer--Lupul out indefinitely with bruised spinal cord
Philadelphia Inquirer--Flyers win but lose two players
Philadelphia Inquirer--Flyers' bite worse than their bark
Philadelphia Inquirer--Downie won't be suspended for sucker punch
Philadelphia News--Lupul to be out a while
National Post--League investigating sucker-punch on Blake
National Post--Downie avoids suspension
Toronto Star--Colaiacovo believes Dowd targeted him
Toronto Star--Leafs agony of defeat continues
Toronto Star--Leafs fall to Flyers
Toronto Sun--Maple Leafs are both nicked and ticked
Globe and Mail--Leafs pepper Flyers with shots but come up short on scoreboard
Globe and Mail--Downie avoids suspension for sucker punch

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