Steve Bernier

Hockey world reacts to controversial Steve Bernier check

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The 2011 Stanley Cup finals had Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton, yet this year’s unforgettable – and controversial – hit might just top that. New Jersey Devils forward Steve Bernier’s check from behind on Los Angeles Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi resulted in an ejection for Bernier, a five-minute major for his team to kill and eventually three goals for the Kings.

Naturally, it also generated a ton of chatter among hockey fans and experts. Here’s a collection of some of the most interesting Twitter reactions.

Burning Bernier

Even minor mistakes tend to generate some great Twitter quips, so one can only imagine the mockery Bernier produced tonight. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but Down Goes Brown’s James Bond-inspired punishment was one of the highlights:

“Breaking: Steve Bernier has been suspended. Not by Brendan Shanahan – by his teammates, with frayed wires, over a tank of sharks.”

To little surprise, many made sarcastic jokes about Bernier deserving a bizarro Conn Smythe. Jason Botchford probably brought the deftest touch to that meme, though.

“Bernier takes his run at Conn Smythe. Late, of course, and from behind.”

In less sardonic Tweets, Corey Masisak expresses some sadness that the Devils’ great fourth line play will likely be overshadowed by that check.

Spreading the blame

One thing that could easily get lost in the Bernier-blaming shuffle is that – obviously – he wasn’t on the ice as the Devils’ vaunted PK allowed three goals during that major penalty. With that in mind, people such as Seth Rorabaugh didn’t just throw the referees or Bernier under the bus.

Regardless of the validity of Bernier’s penalty, you can’t give up three goals on a major in an elimination game. Just inexcusable.

The old guard

At least two former NHL players believe that Bernier’s hit wasn’t that bad. Wes Walz watched multiple replays of the check and concluded that Bernier didn’t have time to slow down. Theo Fleury was even more adamant about Bernier’s raw deal, though.

“What a *****y ending to a great playoffs. A hit like that in the old days would’ve got you the Conn Smythe trophy.”

Fleury represented the faction of observers who felt that Scuderi put himself into a vulnerable position during that hit. Speaking of which, judge for yourself by watching video of the check below:

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So that’s a solid cross-section of the many opinions spewed over perhaps the most memorable moment of the series. Feel free to share the funniest, most poignant and/or strangest thoughts you’ve seen in the comments – even if they’re your own.

Devils’ Merrill undergoes shoulder surgery, out four months

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 04: Jon Merrill #7 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Detroit Red Wings at the Prudential Center on January 4, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Red Wings defeated the Devils 1-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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New Jersey d-man Jon Merrill, who struggled through an injury-riddled campaign, has undergone successful shoulder surgery with an expected recovery time of four months, the club announced on Wednesday.

Merrill, 24, only appeared in 47 games this year, first missing time with an arm injury, then suffering a shoulder ailment late in the year.

There was no clear indication if the two ailments were related, but Merrill’s arm injury was on the right side, and surgery was on his right shoulder.

A former University of Michigan standout taken 38th overall in 2010, Merrill enjoyed solid rookie and sophomore campaigns in New Jersey. His second year was especially solid — 14 points in 66 games, averaging over 20 minutes per night — and he boasts good size, going 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.

Based on the four-month timetable for recovery, Merrill will likely miss parts of New Jersey’s training camp and preseason action.

Max Talbot mulling European options for next season

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After a 10-year career with over 700 games played and one Stanley Cup, Maxime Talbot could be done in the NHL.

Per RDS, Talbot — who’ll hit unrestricted free agency on July 1 — has “some options in Europe” for next season, and is contemplating a move overseas.

In his prime, Talbot was a gritty, hardworking forward with decent touch around the net. He scored double-digit goals four times, including a career-high 19 in ’11-12.

The 32-year-old split last season between Boston and its AHL affiliate in Providence, scoring seven points in 38 games at the NHL level.

Talbot did acquit himself very well with the P-Bruins — 21 points in 26 games — and has some experience playing abroad, having suited up for Finnish League club Ilves Tampere during the lockout.

Based on how things went last year in free agency, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Talbot land in Europe.

The likes of Maxim Lapierre, Curtis Glencross and Marcel Goc all failed to score NHL contracts last summer — Lapierre and Goc proceeded to sign overseas, while Glencross opted to retire.

 

Ex-‘Hawks coach Suhonen takes Austrian national team job

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13:  Thomas Raffl #5 of Austria celebrates with his teammates after Thomas Hundertpfund #27 scored a goal in the first period against Tuukka Rask #40 of Finland during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group B game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Alpo Suhonen, who became the first European-born NHL coach in over 50 years upon taking the Chicago gig in 2000, has been named the new bench boss of the Austrian men’s national team, per IIHF.com.

Suhonen, 67, takes over from former NHL defenseman Dan Ratushny, who was splitting duties between Team Austria and Lausanne of the Swiss League.

Suhonen takes over the national team at a critical juncture. Austria finished a disappointing fourth at the 2016 World Hockey Championship Division 1 tournament — meaning the country finished 20th overall. As the IIHF websites notes, that’s the worst finish for Austria in 86 years of WHC competition.

Looking forward, Austria does have a chance to make amends this summer, when it will play a series of contests to prep for Olympic qualification.

Suhonen inherits a roster with decent NHL pedigree as Thomas Vanek, Michael Raffl and Michael Grabner are all eligible to participate.

That said, Vanek was named to Team Europe’s initial 16-man roster for the World Cup of Hockey, and it remains to be seen how that will impact his national team commitments.

Datsyuk’s agent acknowledges offer from KHL’s SKA, but no deal yet

Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk (13) celebrates his empty net goal against the Edmonton Oilers in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit Monday, March 9, 2015. Detroit won 5-2. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
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Gennady Timchenko, the billionaire chairman of KHL club SKA Saint Petersburg, reportedly believes there’s a “good chance” that Pavel Datsyuk will be playing for his team next season.

But according to Datsyuk’s agent, Dan Milstein, there’s only been an offer from SKA. Nothing has been signed yet. There could still be offers from other KHL teams for his client to consider.

And at any rate, Milstein insisted once again that Datysuk won’t be making any decisions until he speaks with the Detroit Red Wings in mid-June, after the 37-year-old returns from a family vacation.

Milstein passed along that update to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, plus a few other Wings reporters.

Related: Datsyuk ‘wants to make sure the Wings have options’