For the most part, NHL enforcers are walking dichotomies. On the ice, they’re fearsome – often huge – fighters and a general menace to anyone foolish enough to clobber a star player on their team. Yet many times you’ll find that they’re gentle giants when they’re not in their paid pugilist roles, whether they’re Ivy League products such as George Parros, tough-as-nails Canadian farm kids or vessels of comedy such as Paul Bissonnette.
Los Angeles Kings fighter Kevin Westgarth took a severe beating from gigantic Chicago Blackhawks defenseman John Scott last night, as you can see from the unanimous decision verdict at HockeyFights.com.
It really didn’t take long for Scott to bloody the face of Westgarth in a fight that was more than a little cringe-inducing. It seems like Westgarth might have suffered a broken nose from the altercation, but he took in stride. He was in good humor about the fight with Rich Hammond of Los Angeles Kings Insider.
Kevin Westgarth was still smiling this morning. Breathing? That too, although it might have been a little more difficult. Westgarth said he likely suffered a broken nose during last night’s fight with the city of Chicago’s only known mountain, John Scott. Scott measures in at 6-foot-8 and north of 250 pounds, so Westgarth knew what he was getting into when he dropped the gloves. After the game, Westgarth had a bandage on his nose, and he skated in practice today with a visor but said he would be ready to play tomorrow if Terry Murray put him in the lineup.
“I’m good for about one a year,” Westgarth joked of his bloodied nose.
There is a sense of honor among enforcers, so given the chance to gloat after the game, Scott instead praised Westgarth’s effort, telling Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune, “He’s a good fighter. He’s been around the block. I just got the better of him on this day. I’m sure we’ll fight again and see how it goes.”
Kings coach Murray was effusive in his praise of Westgarth for paying the price to pump his teammates. While fights are frequent events and thus rarely do much to affect a game, there are times when even a lost battle can turn into a rallying cry.
Either way, it’s hard not to like a guy like Westgarth, especially when it’s clear he can laugh at himself – even with a broken nose.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Bill Foley is “9.5” confident that the NHL will grant him an expansion team for Las Vegas.
That was the main takeaway from an interview Foley did with KSNV NBC in Las Vegas.
At the same time, despite his high level of confidence, Foley would appreciate an answer sooner rather than later — especially if the team is to start playing in 2017-18.
” I don’t want to give the league too much time,” he said, smiling. “They’re doing their job, they’re doing their process and so on. We would really like to have the word by June.”
Foley was asked what he believed to be the biggest “concern” the NHL had about expansion. He replied that it was a matter of whether the league expanded by one team or two (Quebec City has also applied for a franchise), but also the expansion draft.
“Who’s available in the draft? Are players with no-trade clauses…are they going to be part of the draft or not part of the draft?” Foley wondered. “So the owners and the league have a lot of things to do and to figure out.”
Full video of the interview can be found here.
Related: Bettman rejects notion that the NHL is waiting for Seattle
The Florida Panthers have had no problem giving Roberto Luongo the odd night off this season. That’s because Al Montoya has been one of the best backups in the league.
Montoya (8-2-1, .931) will get the call tonight in Detroit, with Luongo (23-13-5, .930) expected to start tomorrow in Buffalo.
The Panthers have the highest team save percentage in the NHL, at .926 (which includes empty-net goals).
“They both give us a chance to win every night,” Panthers d-man Brian Campbell told the Miami Herald recently. “Both make huge saves for us at times. You need consistent saves every night and they both bring it. Montoya gets put into a tough spot a lot of times and nothing seems to change.”
Not good news for the St. Louis Blues — the club announced this morning that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been placed on injured reserve with a right-knee injury. He’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks.
Pietrangelo suffered the injury Saturday in a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle.
Based on the timeline provided, the Blues will be without their leader in average ice time (26:40) until at least the end of the month. St. Louis plays 10 times between now and Feb. 29, which also happens to be the trade deadline.
The big question, of course, is whether Pietrangelo will be ready to go upon re-evaluation.
The first day of the playoffs is April 13.
Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made
Alain Vigneault took another shot at the NHL’s Department of Player Safety today.
This time, the Rangers head coach was upset about the lack of supplementary discipline for Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds in the wake of Saturday’s altercation with New York captain Ryan McDonagh.
“An All-Star player gets sucker-punched, goes down,” Vigneault said, per The Record. “I wonder if that’s (Sidney) Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences? And, on top of that, a player breaks his stick, throws it at the referees. In the rulebook, that’s automatic. It’s three games. Nothing happens. It’s not even on the sheet after the game.”
Simmonds’ punch left McDonagh concussed and unable to play tonight versus New Jersey, with no timetable for his return.
Earlier this season, Vigneault voiced his frustration with the league after Rangers center Derek Stepan suffered broken ribs in Boston on a hit from Bruins forward Matt Beleskey.
Vigneault felt the hit was late.
“I remember Aaron Rome in this building, .6 seconds late, getting suspended four games in the Stanley Cup Final,” the former Vancouver Canucks coach said, recalling the contentious 2011 final.
Beleskey was not suspended.