Dustin Brown, Martin Hanzal

Los Angeles thinks Hanzal got off light


Phoenix Coyotes center Martin Hanzal won’t play in tonight’s affair after being suspended for boarding Dustin Brown.

But if the Kings had their way, Hanzal would be missing more than just tonight.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports Los Angeles is displeased with Brendan Shanahan’s decision to only suspend the Coyotes forward one game. Brown said he thought Hanzal “was going to get two,” while defenseman Willie Mitchell offered sharp critique of the NHL’s discipline czar.

“I’m not particularly happy about it,” Mitchell said. “You know, who am I, I’m just a player, but … this stuff evolves over time, it gets better over time. I’d like to see [the suspension be] a little bit more, not just because we’re playing the Phoenix Coyotes right now.

“I just think messages need to be sent and it needs to be a little bit stiffer because what if Dustin Brown breaks his neck on that incident, as he very easily could have?”

It’s not surprising that Mitchell went on the offensive. Since joining the Kings, he’s been outspoken with regards to concussions and player safety.

In October, Mitchell talked to PHT for a series looking at the issue and impact of concussions in the NHL.

Here’s what he had to say:

I missed eight months of hockey. Eight months of my life was gone, right? [That’s] the reality of it, eight months of your life is gone. You’re living in pain every day, you have a headache, headache is pain. Whether it’s small, medium, or large headache, it’s pain. You live with that.

It’s tough. You can’t do anything. You can’t read, you can’t drive your car — it hurts. Living in pain, it’s almost like, I always say, a snippet into a terminal illness so to speak. It gives you a little snippet, because not only [does it] physically bother you, but it’s the emotional aspect of it as well. You wake up every day and you don’t feel better and that can take its toll.

Stress in life, what does it do? It gives you a headache. Well, that’s one thing you’re trying to get away from is a headache.

Torres also spoke out this postseason regarding the Raffi Torres on Marian Hossa hit (and subsequent suspension) and the Bryon Bitz hit on teammate Kyle Clifford.

Friday’s loss serves as ‘harsh lesson’ for Blue Jackets

Jasper Fast, Nick Foligno, Henrik Lundqvist
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Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.

Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.

Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.

The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.

“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.

Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.

The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.

“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”



Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?