Posted on: December 31, 2011 1:36 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 2:10 pm
By: Adam Gretz
The NHL determined on Saturday morning that the incident at the end of Friday's Rangers-Panthers game was worth nothing more than a couple of $2,500 fines.
In the closing seconds Panthers forward Tomas Kopecky and Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto werei involved in a skirmish in front of the New York net. After Del Zotto gave Kopecky a shot up high with his stick, Kopecky responded by dropping Del Zotto with what was basically a sucker punch to the face.
Kopecky was then pulled out of the ensuing scrum by Mike Rupp, who then started to throw some punches of his own at the Panthers forward.
Kopecky received a match penalty for his punch on Del Zotto (Rupp was also given a game misconduct and a five-minute major for fighting), and it seemed like a pretty good bet that Kopecky would sit out at least a couple of games for his actions. Not the case. The league announced on Saturday that Kopecky and Del Zotto have each been fined $2,500, the maximum fine allowed, and both will be eligible to play in their team's next game.
The Panthers host the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, while the Rangers will play the Flyers on Monday during the Winter Classic.
Of course, all parties involved will also be eligible to play when these two teams face off again next Thursday in New York, a meeting that could get ugly with some sort of vigilante justice if the post-game comments from Friday are any indication.
Following Friday's game Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said that Del Zotto deserved to get smashed in the face for his stick work on Kopecky, while Panthers forward Krys Barch said "You can’t allow that stuff to happen. That’s just not allowed to go on in terms of a teammate getting jumped like that. We’ll take care of that next week."
Mark your calendars.
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Kopecky sucker punches Del Zotto
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Posted on: December 30, 2011 11:07 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 1:41 am
With just 10 seconds left and the outcome well in hand, the Panthers' Tomas Kopecky was trying to gain a footing in the crease alongside Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto. Del Zotto gave Kopecky a cross check and his stick hit Kopecky in the back of the head, so Kopecky responded with a blow to Del Zotto's head, unleashing a massive scrum.
The hit looked really bad and naturally it prompted a response from the Rangers, particularly Mike Rupp. He began circling around the fracas like a shark in the water, waiting for his chance at Kopecky. Despite the lineman trying to take Kopecky away from the pile, Rupp came in anyway and basically ripped Kopecky from the linesman's grasp and unloaded five haymakers to Kopecky's noggin. Both Rupp and Kopecky were assessed game misconducts (not a lot of punishment with 10 seconds left).
After the game, Rangers coach John Tortorella said called Kopecky's hit ''a cheap shot. With no honor.''
But Panthers coach Kevin Dineen stuck up for Kopecky.
"That's hockey. Some guy cross-checks you in the back and then follows through. He deserves a good smash in the face," Dineen said of Del Zotto. "He got what he deserved. Then guys who play five minutes a night, it's typical that they would go and try and grab our skill players. We'll see what the response is."
You can guarantee that this already has the full attention of Brendan Shanahan and the league office. This is one of the dirtiest plays you can pull in hockey, a sucker punch to an opponent. I have a feeling that not even Rupp's vigilante justice that is his right hand will be enough punishment for Kopecky in this case.
There is a little precedent for this under Shanahan, too. Remember back to the preseason when James Wisniewski of the Columbus Blue Jackets threw his own sucker shot on Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild. That earned the Wiz a suspension for the rest of the preseason and the first eight regular-season games.
Now Kopecky doesn't have the priors that Wisniewski had on his record, but I'd be surprised if Kopecky didn't earn himself an in-person hearing for this punch. That would mean that a five-games or great suspension would be in play. Rupp could have earned himself a phone call from the league as well.
Mark it down on your calendar now, these teams will meet again, and very soon. Next week, Thursday to be exact, the Panthers head up to MSG for the last meeting of the season between the two and Florida's Krys Barch will be ready for it.
“I’m sure we’ll have a meeting next week in New York,” Barch told the Sun-Sentinel. "You can’t allow that stuff to happen. … That’s just not allowed to go on in terms of a teammate getting jumped like that. We’ll take care of that next week."
Posted on: December 30, 2011 2:06 pm
You could see this coming from a mile away. Ten miles even.
The New York Rangers placed Sean Avery on waivers on Friday, bringing an end to this chapter of his Rangers career. It clears the way for him to join another team -- if any are interested -- or go back to the AHL, where he started the season with the Connecticut Whale.
Avery was called up a few weeks into the season because of a host of injuries with the Rangers, most notably Mike Rupp. But now Rupp is back to being healthy and Avery hasn't played in nine games, a healthy scratch in each of them.
The Rangers started the season slowly -- which they obviously have remedied -- and it led to calls from Rangers fans to get Avery back with the team, they needed some spark. Avery was recalled and the team took off. It was more coincidental than anything, but it coincided with Avery's callup.
It could make for an interesting scene in 24/7, but I don't think it will get much of a mention. But that's one thing we've seen in HBO's Hard Knocks series, covering NFL teams in their training camps, seeing players get cut from the rosters.
So now what comes next for the 31-year-old winger who is more known for his antics and off-ice noise than his game? We'll have to wait and see. Larry Brooks of the New York Post reports that Avery's agent was given permission to seek potential landing spots with other NHL teams during the recent roster freeze. Considering he has gone through the waivers process unclaimed already this season, it doesn't seem likely a team will take a flier on him now.
I still think Avery can have some value to teams. He is a high-energy player who was on his best behavior in his time with the Rangers this season. It might be hard for you to believe, but Avery only took one minor penalty in his 15 games with the Rangers, scoring three goals. But he is a bit toxic from some of his past. I'd be surprised if somebody wanted to take a chance on him.
Let's put it this way: Would you want Sean Avery on your team?
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: December 21, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 12:00 am
By: Adam Gretz
Episode two of HBO's 24/7 showed us two very different sides of Rangers head coach John Tortorella. On one hand, we saw the type of intense, expletive-filled rants and speeches in the locker room that we expected to see in an effort to get his team moving. That's what happened during the first intermission of a recent game against the St. Louis Blues that the Rangers eventually lost.
But we also saw his softer side, as his relationship with a 10-year-old Rangers fan with cerebal palsy by the name of Liam Trainer was highlighted. The two met through the Rangers' Garden of Dreams Foundation, and Tortorella's face lit up when speaking about him and how he's kept in contact with him. The Rangers even gave him an early Christmas present by setting he and his family up with tickets for the Jan. 2 Winter Classic in Philadelphia.
"I'm glad he's part of my life," said Tortorella.
It was nice to see that Tortorella is more than a hockey coach that screams at people on the ice and, away from the rink, can be more than willing to give back to his community.
Episode two MVP: Flyers coach Peter Laviolette
I'm giving it to Laviolette for this season, and this reason only: How many times have you, as a fan, watched your team play a game in Montreal and get called for a penalty that leaves you saying, "they only got that call because it's in Montreal."
If you haven't said it, you've probably thought about it at some point. Well, you're not alone, and coaches react the same way you do. After Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr was tripped as he carried the puck into the offensive zone (with no call) the play went down to the other end of the ice and resulted in a slashing call on Flyers rookie Sean Couturier. Laviolette was livid and started screaming "Typical Montreal" at the officials. He did this multiple times, even after he left the bench.
I also like how he edits himself when talking to referees. Instead of dropping F-Bomb's with the officials during that exchange he made sure he said "frickin'", and then proceeded to let loose with his expletives once back in the locker room.
Three moments that stood out
1) Speaking of referees, one of the interesting angles provided this week was footage of the referees locker room after the first period of the Rangers-Coyotes game (the one that ended with Brad Richards' goal with 0.1 seconds remaining in regulation) as they discussed an incident involving Rangers forward Mike Rupp and Coyotes forward Raffi Torres. I realize the show is focussing on the two teams, but the referees and their involvement in the game is a pretty huge part of it, and I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more from them.
2) After the series debut last week we all wanted more Ilya Bryzgalov, and we got him this week. It appears that his teammates have started to refer to him as "universe" after his speech about how it is "so humongous big" while others joked that they would be sure to never kill a tiger after he explained how it's illegal and will result in the death penalty in certain countries. But we also had some fresh moments for the, let's say unique, Flyers netminder.
For one, he reads Tolstoy while on the plane, and he also compared his husky to a beautiful woman saying, "My husky, she's basically a hot girl, man."
When talking about how crazy it is to play goalie in the NHL and put himself in front of shots every night, Bryzgalov suggested that it's the defensemen in front of him that are crazier.
You know what? He's not wrong.
3) We learned just how young some of the Flyers rookies are. How young? Couturier, a 19-year-old rookie and first-round draft pick from this year, lives in the extra bedroom of Danny Briere's house, and that he is closer in age to Briere's three kids than he is to Briere himself, his teammate. We also learned that Zac Rinaldo is amazed that he gets to play on the same ice as Jaromir Jagr, which impresses him because he used to be able to play with Jagr on Sega Genesis as a kid growing up.
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Posted on: December 16, 2011 3:34 pm
One thing we learned from the first episode of this year's 24/7 series on HBO, it's that the New York Rangers got a pretty good kick out of Artem Anisimov's stick-shooting celebration that set off a bit of an uproar from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
One of the top three moments of the show was when the Rangers walked back into the locker room after the second period where Anisimov was serving his misconduct. The first player to walk in was Sean Avery, who looked at Anisimov with a Grinch-like grin and chuckle. Marian Gaborik was next and had pretty much the same reaction.
"You shooting at the goalie?" a teammate is heard asking Anisimov.
"No," Anisimov responds. "Just reload my weapon, you know?"
While Anisimov, coach John Tortorella and some of his teammates did come out and say it was wrong, that doesn't mean they can't have any fun with it. So the teasing continues.
Love it. I don't know about the rest of you, but this is probably my favorite part about watching 24/7, seeing the guys having fun with each other and interacting. We usually only see these guys on the ice, so it's great to see sides like this. Of course, Twitter has helped in that regard, too.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 1:15 pm
Now the fun begins.
Avery was reassigned to the AHL just before the Rangers opened the season in Sweden. At the time, coach John Tortorella didn't want to "jam" Avery up, saying he believed there were better players on the roster. It was a hockey decision, not a personal one.
For his part, Avery said he didn't believe he ever had a fair chance to make the roster and that he didn't expect to return to the NHL this season.
Most say Avery was recalled to give the Rangers some energy and a spark. Until Monday night's 5-2 thumping of the Sharks, they had been rather flat. Avery's game is anything but flat. Ironically, though, the game de-emphasized the need for Avery after the process to recall him had already begun. Still, the Sharks' Joe Thornton thinks the Rangers could use a little more grit still.
But Tortorella, who has a frosty relationship with Avery, said the move was done in lieu of Mike Rupp's knee injury. Again, it's a hockey move.
"This is the right decision," Tortorella said Monday. "It's the right hockey decision now and it was the right hockey decision when we sent Sean down. That's where it's at."
At least he's sticking to his guns.
We'll still have to wait and see if Tortorella will play Avery. The decision to recall him might have come from GM Glen Sather, but Tortorella still puts the players on the ice. Our first chance to see how the Torts-Avery reunion is going will be on Thursday when the Rangers host the Anaheim Ducks.
"I'm not force-feeding anything," Tortorella said after Monday's game. "If I look at the tape and think guys have done their job, you stay with your team. I just don't know what the lineup's going to be our next game. We'll see how it all works out."
As I said, this is going to be fun.
Photo: Getty Images