Tag Archives: Matt Cooke

SPOTLIGHT: COMINGS AND GOINGS

Bruce BerletBY: Bruce Berlet

It’s official.

Sid “The Kid” Crosby will be returning AGAIN in the world’s biggest media center.

Crosby, who has been battling the effects of post-concussion syndrome for more than 14 months, will be back in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup Thursday night when they visit Madison Square Garden to face the New York Rangers, whom they’re frantically pursuing for the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference titles.

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FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

BY: Bruce Berlet

Two former New York Rangers/Hartford Wolf Pack players were on the opposite ends of the happiness scale Wednesday.

Defenseman Fedor Tyutin hit the jackpot, while center Marc Savard’s career sadly could be over far too soon.

Tyutin, the Rangers’ second-round pick in 2001, signed a six-year, $27 million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who added free agent James Wisniewski in a major offseason deal and now have a top-flight pairing. Tyutin will have a salary cap hit of $4.5 million a season after getting seven goals and 20 assists in 80 games last season. Tyutin, who will make $3.425 million this season, would have been an unrestricted free agent next July 1.

“Pleased to announce 6 year extension for Fedor Tyutin,” Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Fedor has been our top dman since we traded for him. He signed the deal this morning.”

On July 2, 2008, the 28-year-old Tyutin and defenseman Christian Backman were traded by the Rangers to Columbus for forwards Nikolay Zherdev and Dan Fritsche. Tyutin, who has 22 goals and 71 assists in three seasons with the Blue Jackets, is the only player in the trade since with New York or Columbus.

Tyutin averaged between 20:02 and 20:33 in ice time in parts of four seasons with the Rangers, but he has played at least 22:42 a game each season with the Blue Jackets. Tyutin also has represented Russia in the past two Olympics, getting four assists in 17 games. He had seven goals and 10 assists in 56 games with the Wolf Pack in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons.

Meanwhile, Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told Boston Globe writer Fluto Shinzawa that he doesn’t expect Savard to play this season. Savard, 34, the Rangers’ fourth-round pick in 1995, had two goals and eight assists while playing in only 25 games with the Stanley Cup champion Bruins last season, which started late because of symptoms from a concussion in 2009-10 and ended in January after another concussion.

“Marc Savard won’t play this year,” Chiarelli told Shinzawa. “Nothing has changed in our monitoring. He’ll be examined and he’ll be declared unfit to play.”

In the four seasons before his first concussion in March 2010, Savard averaged more than 89 points and was considered one of the top passers in the NHL. A two-time All-Star, Savard has five seasons remaining on his contract, but Shinzawa also reported Savard is not expected to be present for the start of training camp.

“Based on what I see, what I hear, what I read, and what I’m told, it’s very unlikely Marc will play again,” Chiarelli said. “Now, knowing the uncertainty of this injury, there’s always a chance [he could play]. But based on what I’m told, it’s very unlikely he’ll play. As an employer, I support him and hope he gets back to living a healthy life.”

It’s a sad ending to a blindside hit that Savard took from Pittsburgh Penguins’ noted headhunter Matt Cooke in a game on March 7, 2010. The on-ice officials did not penalize Cooke for the hit, and three days later, league disciplinarian Colin Campbell said the league would not suspend or fine Cooke. But the hit and its aftermath were part of the key evidence that caused NHL to institute a new rule more heavily penalizing blindside hits.

Savard sustained another concussion when hit by friend and former teammate Matt Hunwick of the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 22. In an interview with TSN on Aug. 1, Savard said he was still suffering the effects of post-concussion syndrome.

“It’s obviously been a long road for me,” said Savard, who had 24 goals and 63 assists in 67 games with the Wolf Pack in 1997-98 and 1998-99 before being traded to the Calgary Flames. “I’m still suffering with a lot of daily issues. Right now it’s been a tough go. I’m just trying to get through and not worry about hockey right now, just worry about my health because I have three young kids and they’re important to me.

“Mornings have been tough. When I get up in the morning I’m a little foggy sometimes. But as the day wears on, I’m pretty good. Hot sun is tough; I try to stay in the shade and stuff like that and pop the odd Advil and it seems to be OK.”

Wonder if Cooke has any remorse about the senseless hit he put on Savard? Probably not, but at least he couldn’t prevent Savard from having his day with the Stanley Cup in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario, where he took hockey’s most prized trophy to a local golf course.

Here’s hoping arguably the most skilled player in Wolf Pack history can live somewhat of a normal life for the remainder of his days.

BULLDOGS TO HOST OUTDOOR GAME

The Hamilton Bulldogs will host the AHL’s third outdoor game at Ivor Wynne Stadium on Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. The games against the Toronto Marlies will be the first time in AHL history that a Canadian team has held an outdoor game.

“This will be a week-long celebration of hockey, with an NHL and AHL alumni game, local minor hockey games, culminating with a battle between the Bulldogs and the Marlies on January 21st,” Bulldogs owner and chairman Michael Andlauer said. “It is our chance to showcase what a great hockey community Hamilton truly is. To me, this is about more than just a hockey game, it’s about bringing the community together in celebration of what is truly Canadian; an outdoor hockey game between the farm clubs of the two most storied franchises in hockey, being played in a Canadian Football League stadium.

“We are very thankful in partnering and working closely with Mayor Bob Bratina and the City of Hamilton as well as Bob Young, Scott Mitchell and the Tiger-Cats to ensure this is a great success. With their backing, and the support of ’Dogs fans, ’Cats fans and all Hamiltonians, I’m confident that together we’ll easily break the AHL’s attendance record of 21,673.”

That would be the 21,673 that attended the second outdoor game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Feb. 19, when the host Connecticut Whale lost 5-4 to the Providence Bruins in a shootout. The first outdoor game was Feb. 20, 2010, when the host Syracuse Crunch beat the Binghamton Senators 2-1 before 21,508 at the New York State Fairgrounds.

“The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are excited to be involved with the Bulldogs for such a great event for our city,” Tiger-Cats president Scott Mitchell said. “This outdoor game will be a terrific way to kick off the 2012 sports calendar in what is the final season of historic Ivor Wynne Stadium.”

“Hockey fans in southern Ontario are in for a terrific experience as the American Hockey League goes outdoors for the first time in Canada,” AHL President and CEO David Andrews said. “Historic Ivor Wynne Stadium has been the site of many great Hamilton-Toronto games in the CFL, and now the Hamilton Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies will bring their intense pro hockey rivalry to what could be an all-time record AHL crowd.”

All Bulldogs season ticket holders will receive a ticket to the outdoor game in their package. Prior to going on sale to the public, season ticket holders and flex pack holders will have an opportunity to purchase tickets to the game. Tickets for the outdoor game will go on sale to the public on Oct. 11 at 10:00 a.m. Ticket prices will be announced in the near future.

“A new era of professional hockey has begun thanks to Michael Andlauer and the Bulldogs,” Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina said. “I encourage all Hamilton hockey fans to consider joining me as a Bulldogs season ticket holder.”

AVON’S DEMICHIEL SIGNS WITH KALAMAZOO

Goalie Jared DeMichiel of Avon signed a one-year contract with Kalamazoo of the ECHL but will attend the training camp of the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. DeMichiel, 26, who was born in Torrington and played at Avon Old Farms, led upstart Rochester Institute of Technology to the Frozen Four in 2010, when he was 27-10-1 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .921 save percentage and had six shutouts in 38 games before signing a free-agent contract with the Washington Capitals. He previously played with the Boston Harbor Wolves in the Eastern Junior Hockey League, Springfield Junior Blues in the North American Hockey League and the Chicago Steel and Indiana Ice in the United States Hockey League.

In his rookie pro season, DeMichel was 2-1-0, 3.65, .873 in five games with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, 14-10-0, 2.66, .913 in 26 games with the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays and 1-2-2, 3.93, .889 in five games with the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals. Now he gets to rub elbows with the reigning Stanley Cup champions, including star goalie Tim Thomas, before heading to Michigan. DeMichiel’s favorite sports moment so far is Kevin Dineen’s winning goal in a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Hartford Whalers’ last home game April 13, 1997. Maybe some time with Thomas & Co. will change DeMichiel’s mind.

WSE EXECUTIVE TO BE HONORED

Howard Baldwin, president and CEO of Whalers Sports and Entertainment, will receive the Connecticut Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s 2011 Community Leader of the Year Award at its Sportscasters’ Super Ball Nov. 12 at The Club at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

The black-tie gala honors state sports stars and community leaders while raising money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis. The gala was established in 2002 by ESPN’s Joe Tessier and Chris Berman to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and includes dinner, dancing and a live auction.

“Howard Baldwin is the definition of a community leader,” said Paul Drury, director of special projects at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “He brings people together, simple as that. The Winter Fest at Rentschler Field last February is a perfect example. There were pee wee, high school and NHL alumni games, and thousands of fans to watch. But most importantly, he gives back to the community he believes in.”

Past Community Leader honorees have included philanthropist Mark Wilson, The Hartford CFO Liz Zlatkus, Open Solutions CEO Louis Hernandez and IAE President Jon Beatty. Former sports honorees have included: Geno Auriemma, Jen Rizzotti, Jim Brown, Steve Young, Brian Leetch, Luis Tiant and Dwight Freeney.

For tickets ($200) or to get involved with the foundation, contact Drury at 860-632-7300 or pdrury@cff.org.

FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

BY: Bruce Berlet

Dave Scatchard is the latest example of why all of hockey should do everything possible to prevent headhunting.

Scatchard, a center who played three games with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the 2007-08 season, has decided to end his 14-year pro career because of post-concussion symptoms.

Scatchard, who had 128 goals and 141 assists in 659 NHL games with six teams, including the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins, can’t recall his career finale with the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen in April when he was knocked unconscious for five minutes by a late hit and woke up scared in an ambulance because he didn’t know where he was.

Scatchard, 35, was still determined to return this season until doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., examined him for a week and told him there were five visible spots showing trauma on his brain. So on Aug. 22, he became perhaps the first athlete to announce his retirement on Twitter.

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FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

bruce mug shot 1By Bruce Berlet

The Connecticut Whale enjoyed a rare day off Monday from the most hectic segment of their schedule after two workmanlike bounce-back wins following a horrid showing in Toronto on Wednesday.

But most players might have been a bit on edge while sharing time with love ones on Valentine’s Day. The NHL trading deadline was only two weeks away (Feb. 28), and while the Whale were parlaying solid defensive work and goaltending from Dov Grumet-Morris with an effective power play into a 4-1 victory over Providence on Sunday, New York Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather was telling the New York Post’s Larry Brooks that he felt the organization had stockpiled enough assets to make a deal if needed.

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FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

bruce mug shot 1By Bruce Berlet

No one – repeat no one – enjoyed/enjoys tough, physical, fan-pleasing hockey more than Kevin Dineen.

The former Hartford Whalers star right wing/captain, now coach of the Portland Pirates, thrived on the kind of play, earning endless plaudits from Connecticut fans and respect throughout the hockey community.

But Dineen sees a bad trend developing in the game he loves. And you need go no farther than the Pirates-Connecticut Whale game on Saturday night in which neither team backed down, jabbing at the opposition was commonplace and hits often ferocious. It hardly seemed appropriate behavior on Boy Scouts Night at the XL Center.

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HAVE GM’S TAKEN TOO MANY HEADSHOTS?

It’s not often that we’ve gotten on a soapbox for any particular issue, but we think about something this serious, it’s long overdue that we did.

According to a story at TSN.ca the NHL GM’s meetings have produced this piece of regulatory legislation regarding hits to the head:

“A lateral, back pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and or the principal point of contact is not permitted.

A violation of the above will result in a minor or major penalty and shall be reviewed for possible supplemental discipline.”

So if a player, like one time Wolf Pack center, Marc Savard, (See left) is almost completely decapitated by a clear shot to the head that was intended to injure gets a two or a five-minute penalty then surely he would think twice before doing it right? Yeah sure he will.

If removing these blatant shots to the head was something that these GM’s really did want to remove from the game, then the more appropriate wording would have been more like this:

“A lateral, back pressure or blindside hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and or the principal point of contact will not be permitted or tolerated.

A violation of the above will result in immediate expulsion from the game, a major penalty shall be assessed to the team violating the aforementioned rule, and if after review by the league it is deemed that the hit was intentional and not accidental, the offending player shall be immediately suspended from playing the in the NHL without pay until the injured player is able to return to action, no matter how long that recovery period lasts. The offending team’s roster spot shall remain open and not be refilled until that suspension ends. Should the league deem the hit accidental, the suspension shall be a minimum of ten games and possibly longer at the NHL’s discretion.”

Now, had the league written something like that, that would have eliminated the hits to the head.

With the athletes in the league getting bigger, stronger and faster on their skates something has got to be done or someone is going to wind up crippled or possibly killed. How would you like to be the parent of a player that is maimed or killed and knowing that the person who did that paid the price by getting two minutes in the penalty box? Seems reasonable to me…

There should be a “zero-tolerance” rule in place for any hits to the head.

If you spent any time watching Olympic hockey, you could see that when the game is played correctly and the talent level is there that it is by a country mile the best sport in the world to watch. When the Matt Cook’s or the Todd Bertuzzi’s (see right in case you’ve forgotten) of this world are allowed to play in the game we all love so much.

By the way Ranger fans, if the hit on Savard seems strikingly familiar, perhaps a review of this video might help you memory.

This has got to stop. It’s up to the league to have the “brains” pardon the pun, to take some action before the next action they’re taking is explaining away a hit that resulted in something far worse.

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Also in the recommendation is the request for the AHL to return to two referees in at least 40% of their games. That’s an excellent suggestion that we fully support.