Question: In the history of the NHL playoffs, has there ever been a fight between a head coach and the opposing team’s beat writer?
The reason I ask is we may be on the cusp of one of the greatest throw-downs in recent memory. Daily Herald beat writer Tim Sassone has been re-energized by the Hawks run into the playoffs. He’s throwing out on average two to three stories a day. His blog, Between the Circles, is getting updated about twice daily.
Anyone who has paid close attention to his blog the past couple days may have picked up on what I noticed. Last night after the game, Sassone included this at the end of his entry:
It’s beautiful how poor Mike claims his player is a victim when the Flames have been allowed to get away with one cross-check after another after whistles when goalie Miikka Kiprusoff makes a save. Even when there isn’t a Hawk near the goalie, it’s Vandermeer, Aucoin, Pardy or Phaneuf cross-checking or giving a face wash to Havlat, Toews or Sharp.
Like mostly everyone else, Sassone has grown quite annoyed with Mike Keenan’s constant complaining. Then this morning, he posted this:
Flames coach Mike Keenan just met with the media Tuesday and said he couldn’t care less if the Hawks are complaining about what the Calgary defensemen are doing after whistles in the form of cross-checks, slashes and face washes.
Now maybe it will come out in tomorrow’s papers, but I have yet to find one quote from any Hawks player complaining about cross-checks, slashes, or face washes. In fact, the only place I’ve seen the complaining is on Sassone’s blog. So either Mike Keenan was replying to something he heard from the Hawks players or he was replying to a pointed Sassone question. Personally, I’m voting for the latter.
Some other priceless Keenan gems from today’s interview:
Keenan complained again about the cross-check Adam Burish delivered to Rene Bourque’s shoulder (not face) in the final minute of Game 3, questioning the tactics of Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.
The Flames also complained about what they claimed is verbal abuse from the Hawks toward Jarome Iginla, much of it from Burish.
It’s hard to tell who is playing the role of overprotective hockey mom to more critical acclaim, Sassone or Keenan. By the way, they also made a point to say none of the abuse to Iginla is racial. Only in hockey.
–Otherwise, Patrick Kane participated in practice today. Hopefully, this means we’ll have seen the last of that dreadful second power play unit of Byfuglien-Versteeg-Brouwer with Campbell and Bolland on the point. I know my colleague, Bob, is no fan of the forward playing defense on the power play and I must agree with him in this case. If you noticed during the game Monday night, everytime the penalty was expiring and Bolland was on the ice, he would quickly return to the bench.
Basically, this is negating any advantage the Hawks ever had. With the puck in Calgary’s zone, the play becomes a 4-on-5 as the Hawks wait for their defenseman to join the play. Not exactly the best way to sustain the momentum of the shift.
Regardless, if the Hawks want all the rough stuff Calgary is throwing their way to begone, they MUST capitalize on a couple of power plays. Nothing will make a team more hesitant to chop on your stick or cross-check you in the ribs than a dangerous power play. At this point, the Hawks are a bit overdue.
–On the other side of the border, Kent from Matchsticks and Gasoline says the key for Calgary to win any more games in this series is to get Iginla going. This is a fascinating post as it breaks down the percentage of ice time each Hawks player has had when Iginla is on the ice. It will also make you feel better as Flames’ fans are hardly the most confident bunch these days.
–Some absolutely intriguing stuff from Chris about the Hawks farmhands Akim Aliu and Kyle Beach who recently got kicked off the Rockford IceHogs for some unspecified reason. I’ve already gone on record as to hoping that neither of these guys make it to Chicago. Of course, Dale Tallon probably feels a little different as both high (or low as Scotty Bowman calls them) picks will reflect poorly on him when he goes to the negotiation table this summer.
UPDATE— Of course, shortly after publishing this, the Tribune posted this story. Oh well, I’m still hoping Sassone and Keenan drop the gloves before this series ends.