“Hej, Heja, Heja, Cracovia Mistrzem Hokeja,” chanted the fans in Poland this week, after Cracovia Krakow beat GKS Jastrzebie in game seven of the finals of the Polish national championships.
“I’ve never even been at an NHL playoff game,” one of Toronto’s goalies, James Reimer, told one of The Toronto Star’s columnists, Rosie DiManno.
“Is God a Jets fan?” a reporter from The Free Press asked Winnipeg’s team chaplain this week. Great question. “I’ve always been taught that God loves everybody and God loves all the teams,” said Lorne Korol. “And in fact we pray for a spirit of competition for our players, we pray that they would leave it all on the ice for that audience of one, the one being God. And we pray for their safety, both on and off the ice. But we never pray for victory or good weather.”
Alex Ovechkin explained a 2-1 shootout win over the Islanders this week. “Holtsy play unbelievable, make the biggest save, keep us in the game and big win,” he said.
“The history of icing is a harrowing one, involving horrible injuries and even death,” wrote Jeff Z. Klein in The New York Times. This after Carolina’s Joni Pitkanen was injured in a race to touch up a puck for icing. Puzzled Damien Cox from The Toronto Star: “Guy hurt on icing, immediate calls for rule changes; guy gets brain injury in a fight, ho-hum, part of the game #absurd”
On Hockey Night in Canada, Ron Maclean called Toronto’s Nazem Kadri “Nazem-a-taz.” Kadri had just scored a hattrick against Ottawa, so he was happy, as were his teammates, Frazer McLaren and Colton Orr, who stood behind him. “Hard-hat hockey,” is what Toronto plays, said McLaren. Don Cherry was there, too, and he kissed Kadri.
Before that, Maclean said to Kadri, “Your parents knew, your teachers knew, in London, that that was kind of, that you had the spit, you had the self-confidence, and you didn’t take losing lightly, so … congrats is the simplest way to say it.”
“Thank you,” said Kadri, as well as “Lups is a great player” and “My old man’s a pretty gritty guy, too.”
“Who taught you to hit?” Maclean had asked him, “because I know you were good at volleyball and basketball.”
The New York Rangers were having troubles scoring goals, so reporters on the beat asked coach John Tortorella why. “I don’t have an answer for you.”
A puck, slapshot by Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik, flew into Sidney Crosby’s jaw, which broke, shedding teeth and blood. Everybody grimaced. Nobody wanted to think the worst. Crosby left the game.
“I just know,” said his coach Dan Bylsma, after the game, “he had some issues with his teeth. Just from the replay I know that.”
Leafs’ coach Randy Carlyle wondered, “Is that the hockey gods sending a message?”
“How do you replace Sid, honestly?” said Pittsburgh g.m. Ray Shero.
Crosby had surgery, later in the week. Former Penguin and Flyer Rick Tocchet had some thoughts, recalling his formerly broken jaw. “You can’t just have chocolate milkshakes or anything like that,” he said. “The blender is about to become Sid’s best friend. My mom came down and helped me out. Everything — and I mean everything — went into the blender. That will be what Sid has to deal with. You need to get good calories in you. Blend all the fruit and veggies that you can. I lost seven or eight pounds.”
“Broken cheek, had jaw shut 4 3 wks without solids,” tweeted Gare Joyce from Sportsnet’s magazine. “Trust me 87 B 4 not = 2 87 after injury.”
Detroit lost, 1-7, to Chicago. Red Wings’ coach Mike Babcock: “I mean, it was painful to watch. There were 57 minutes of pain.”
The Rangers lost 0-3 to Montreal. Coach Tortorella: “We skated hard. We forechecked and developed scoring chances. But we can’t have any moral victories here.”
Former Ranger and all-around bon vivant Sean Avery tweeted his assessment of how New York might best get back on track: “Fire this CLOWN, his players hate him and wont play for his BS…. @imseanavery is #winning”
Helene Elliott of The Los Angeles Times talked to Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan after a disappointing outing by his Stars. “We better come out hard tomorrow,” he said. “We will come out hard tomorrow, if we have any balls.”
A few minutes after she’d twooted that, Elliott tweeted this: “Alas, Glen Gulutzan’s quote is not fit for print, my editors have decreed.”
Sean Avery posted a photograph of his bathroom medicine cabinet, which contained at least nine prescriptions, Visine, gauze pads, Brut After Shave Balm, and what appeared to be the 1-oz. spray-bottle of Nourishing Youth Serum by Clark’s Botanicals, though, just possibly, it was Truth Serum.
Adam Proteau from The Hockey News on the Philadelphia Flyers’ problems with injured blueliners. “Flyers defense pairings rest of the year: 1. Timonen/String-of-Garlic-Across-The-Goal-Line 2. Schenn/Saul Goodman 3. Gervais/A Good Offense”
“I feel better,” said Montreal’s Rene Bourque after skating with his teammates for the first time since he suffered a concussion on February 23.
“New day,” Winnipeg’s Evander Kane tweeted on Tuesday morning, ahead of his team’s game with the Islanders. “Suns out. Feel good. Lets do this. #gameday”
“I think we are in trouble right now,” said Jets’ goalie Ondrej Pavelec on Tuesday night, after a 2-5 loss.
Minnesota Wild centreman Zenon Konopka told NHLPA.com about Hoppy, his bunny rabbit. “He’s going to be seven years old,” Konopka said, “and he’s traveled with me from Syracuse to Norfolk, to Long Island, to Niagara, to Ottawa, Buffalo, Philly, and Minnesota.”
“Tom Kostopoulos latest to get knocked out and have brain scrambled in fight,” wrote Larry Brooks from The New York Post. “This is part of the sport how exactly?”
Eric Tangradi is a former Penguin of Pittsburgh who’s now a Jet in Winnipeg. “I feel like I’ve finally found a little bit of an identity here,” Tangradi told Josh Yohe of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “which is something I never had in Pittsburgh.”
Q: How exciting is playing in the NHL’s loudest building for every home game?
A: It’s unreal. You pretty much can’t talk to the guy beside you on the bench.
Montreal goalie Peter Budaj had family visiting from Slovakia on the night he helped his team beat the Winnipeg Jets 4-1. “This is the icing on the cake to win this game before my father, my brother, and my uncle,” he said.
Wednesday this week was the last day this season teams could trade players. “I went to the grocery store, bought some groceries,” said James Reimer, goalie of Toronto. “By the time I came home the deadline was over.”
Jarred Smithson of the Florida Panther was on his way to the hospital — he and his wife were expecting a baby — when he found out he was now of the Edmonton Oilers.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Smithson told NHLPA.com less than an hour after he received the news. “You find out your traded, you’re on the way to the hospital to have your child delivered — it’s been a day you won’t forget.”
“Ryan Jones and Ryan Smyth called to welcome me to the team,” he said. “That was really classy on their part. But that’s the way hockey players are.”
Steve Ott bade farewell to Jason Pominville, who went to Minnesota: “Great Man, Player, Leader. He played his ass off.”
Roberto Luongo wasn’t traded, and nor was Miika Kiprusoff. Asked why in Vancouver, Luongo said, unhappily, “My contract sucks.”
Jussi Jokinen, who went from Carolina to Pittsburgh, mentioned this: “I take a lot of pride in face-offs.”
Jaromir Jagr went from Dallas to Boston, where he was asked, is this the end, your last stop? “I don’t know,” Jagr said. “I love to play.”
He talked, too, about his role now, as an elder, a mentor, a sage. “I’m not 25 anymore,” he said.
“If somebody thinks he knows everything when he’s 25, he’s lying to himself or he’s dumb.”
Kevin Dupont from The Boston Globe wrote that Jagr showed “flashes of agelessness” in his first game with the Bruins, in which he scored the only, and winning, goal.
The price of slashing Minnesota’s Dany Heatley was established this week, and it’s US$8,378.38. San Jose defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic was the one to pay it.
Patrice Bergeron was concussed this week. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli called it “a moderate concussion.” Chiarelli talked to him the next day. “He was in very good spirits,” Chiarelli said. “He was out walking today. He was annoyed at it. He was emotional last night.”
“I don’t know when you’ll see him again,” said Bruins’ g.m. Peter Chiarelli.
Ottawa acquired a taste for Cory Conacher, as they say. Or — no. That’s not what they say. Ottawa acquired Conacher: that’s it. From Tampa Bay. He’s related to both Charlie and Lionel, the “Big Train,” as they used to say.
“I actually saw that in one of the articles,” Cory said, “they actually called me Little Train. That’s a neat little name. I hope I can be that Little Train. I try to be that gritty player.”
There was a report, this week, that Sidney Crosby had concussion symptoms and would play no more this season. But Ray Shero said no, not true. “Sid suffered a broken jaw. Contrary to recent rumors there is no sign of any concussion symptoms or concussion at this time.”
Joffrey Lupul from the Leafs left a game this week with an upper head injury. He missed practice the next day. “From what I was told today was just a maintenance day for him,” Nazem Kadri said. “Sometimes just staying away from the rink makes you feel a little bit better.”
The team wasn’t saying concussion. “No,” said coach Randy Carlyle, “that’s a bad word. The term concussion in today’s sporting world, you want to make sure you’re 100 per cent sure before you start using that word.”