Andy Sutton not happy with "expert" reporter

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Leopold.jpgUpdate: Follow the jump for a still shot of the moment of impact of the hit.

It didn’t take long, but we may have our first round of controversy and drama in the playoffs.

Late in the first period of the Pittsburgh and Ottawa game, Jordan Leopold was skating the puck up the near boards in the neutral zone, when the Senators’ Andy Sutton laid a disastrously monster hit on the defenseman. Sutton was not penalized for the hit, and Leopold did not return to the game.

You can see video of the hit here, and it’s pretty obvious right away how dangerous a play like this might be. More on that in a bit.

First, let’s get to the drama that occurred after the game, when a reporter asked Sutton about the hit. You can see the video here, but here’s the transcript:

Reporter: You didn’t know your elbow came up and hit him in the head?

Sutton: Are you asking me or are you telling me?

Reporter: No, I’m asking you.

Sutton: Are you an expert?

Reporter: No, it was on the replay.

Sutton: So you’re an expert?

Reporter: No, it was on the replay.

Sutton: You saw it, you’re saying you saw it, you’re an expert.

Reporter: Yes.

Sutton: You’re not an expert.

Reporter: I saw it. I’m asking if you knew you got your elbow up.

Sutton: You’re telling me I got my elbow up?

Reporter: It was on the replay.

Sutton: So you’re an expert. You know it was up.

And….enter PR representative to get Sutton out of there.

Anyone else getting a “Who’s on first” vibe here?

After the jump, thoughts on the hit and a still frame look at the moment of impact.

Here’s a still frame look at the moment of impact. It’s not perfect, but you can see that Sutton’s elbow was tucked and his skates were on the ice. As much as I hate to see head injuries and as much as such devastating hits can hurt players, there little doubt that this was a clean hit. Leopold had his head down, didn’t see Sutton coming and then turned away at the last instant, making the hit much, much worse. But it was clean

Screenshot courtesy of Versus.

The original report is below.

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The best thing that Andy Sutton could have done was to dismiss the question with a “no comment”. There’s no way he’s going to own up to hitting Leopold with his elbow, because that admission of guilt alone could earn him a suspension.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, however, the NHL will not be handing out any supplemental discipline to Sutton as it’s been deemed a “clean hit”.

It certainly raises the eyebrows a bit that the hit has been dismissed so quickly, as it seemed that there was certainly some contact between elbow and head. Was his elbow raised for the hit? That’s debatable, but for a league that is seemingly so concerned with head injuries I’m surprised it’s been passed over so quickly.

This adds to the debate that if a player has his head down low, and an player making a hit makes contact with the head with his elbow, is it still illegal? I’m of a mind to say that this hit should be illegal, but as the rules are
now it’s not.

It’s also tough to say this was a ‘blind side’ hit, as Leopold turned at the very last instant as the hit was coming.
I’m sure that Pittsburgh fans aren’t going to be too happy with the non-suspension and lack of even a penalty.

Still, we should be thankful that we at least had this glorious exchange between player and reporter. You have to hand it to him; he never backed down in the face of a player who obviously was a bit angry with his line of questioning.

What is wrong with the Sharks?

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Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

Their struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

“When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.

Video: Friday night fights between Bolts and Red Wings

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Not much offense — actually, just one goal midway through the second period as of the writing of this post — between the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.

But there has definitely been some animosity between the two clubs.

Tempers flared late in the first period, with Adam Erne and Andreas Athanasiou getting involved in a spirited scrap — and Athanasiou unsuccessful in his attempt at the take-down.

The bad blood continued in the second period with Greg McKegg and Anthony Mantha getting involved in a fight, and Mantha — given the instigator — landing a couple of shots with McKegg on the ice.

 

NHL, MLB player unions support U.S. women hockey players’ boycott

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Unions representing NHL and Major League Baseball players are backing U.S. Women’s National Hockey team players’ decision to boycott next week’s world championships because of a wage dispute.

The NHL Players’ Association posted a note on its Twitter account on Friday saying it supports the U.S. players while panning USA Hockey’s bid to stock the team with replacements. The NHLPA says the decision to go with replacement players “would only serve to make relations, now and in the future, much worse.”

Earlier in the day, the MLB Players Association encouraged all women hockey players to stand united behind their national team colleagues.

Read more: USA Hockey says it will not offer living wage, as dispute with women’s national team continues

The Twitter messages were posted a day after USA Hockey announced it would begin gauging interest of replacement players to compete at the tournament, which opens next Friday in Plymouth, Michigan.

Players are seeking a four-year contract that includes payments outside the six-month Olympic period.