Ottawa tough guy Zenon Konopka spoke his mind today in anticipation of tonight’s Senators-Rangers tilt, the first meeting between the teams since Ottawa’s wild 5-4 SO win two weeks ago.
That game, of course, was the one where New York’s Wojtek Wolski took out Daniel Alfredsson with a questionable hit.
“We lost our captain. Our captain’s still not in the lineup. I look right across every morning and see (the name) Alfredsson. I usually see his gear hanging there, and that bugs me,” Konopka told the New York Daily News. “Right or wrong, if he was hurt legally, illegally, whatever way you want to explain it, our captain’s out of our lineup, and that’s a big blow to our team, and I look at that every day and that drives me up a wall, and it pisses me off.”
He sounds angry.
Now, keep in mind most people tend not to mess with Konopka. He’s one of the NHL’s most active fighters (58 scraps over the last two seasons) and led the league in penalty minutes last year. The few that do cross him are usually fellow fight enthusiasts.
But Rangers head coach John Tortorella? Oh yeah, Torts will mess with Konopka.
“I don’t give a crap what Zenon said, or whatever his name is said,” Tortorella said following the Rangers’ pregame skate. “We’re going to go about our business and try to play the right way.”
Aside from the name dig, Tortorella’s comment about playing the right way should further rankle the Ottawa center. Konopka has expressed anger at comments the Rangers made on a hit he threw in the previous game — a check on Artem Anisimov that netted Konopka a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct.
“They made a comment that after one of my hits, I guess, that this is what we need out of hockey – one of the Rangers players said,” Konopka said. “Well in my mind, the Wolski hit is the hit we need out of hockey. I feel like mine is a hockey play with the hockey puck there. That didn’t seem like a hockey play.”
Puck drops at Scotiabank Place tonight at 7:30 pm ET. And in case you’re wondering, yes, Konopka and Sean Avery do have a history — they fought in junior when Avery played for the Kingston Frontenacs and Konopka was with the Ottawa 67’s.