Unmasked: The wonderful Calgary artist Lisa Brawn carves and paints reclaimed wood: lots of owls and ravens and ruby-throated hummingbirds, but also zombies, Beatles, prime ministers, and the occasional hockey player. Jacques Plante, for instance, on a block of cherry-wood. To browse and maybe to buy — or just to marvel at her colours and craftsmanship — visit http://www.lisabrawn.com.
Gary Bettman put a number, this week, on how many times players hit one another across the league over the course of a season: “55,000, give or take.” I don’t think that includes punches to the head, just bodychecks. His point was that, once in a while, there’s a bad one in there, and when there is, the NHL deals out a suspension.
Bettman was in Columbus, where he also talked about Philadelphia’s brawl with Washington wherein one goalie, the Flyers’ Ray Emery, skated down the ice to attack another, Braden Holtby of the Capitals, who didn’t want to fight.
“I don’t think anyone liked it,” Bettman said, “liked what it looked like.”
“Protect yourself,” Emery said, later, is what he told Holtby as he swung at him.
Earlier in the week, Brian Burke published a defence of fighting in USA Today. Some people just don’t get it, he said. The players are all volunteers, and if they want to punch one another, in the head, or anywhere else, who are people who write about the game, never having played it professionally, to dare to tell them not to?
Ken Dryden was in print this week, too, in The Globe and Mail, answering Bobby Orr who, in his new book, makes his own argument in favour of fighting.
You’re wrong, Dryden said. Also:
The model for an NHL without fighting is right there in front of us. It’s not the Olympics, though opponents of fighting often say it is. The Olympics are too unique an experience. The ice surface is bigger. Players put on their nation’s jerseys and, in front of countrymen who know their game and those who don’t, avoid doing things that might be misunderstood.
The real model is the playoffs. It’s the time of year that fans love best; when the best hockey is played.
“This makes hockey look bush,” said Neil Smith on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central, regarding Emery chasing down Holtby to punch his head.
As Washington was fricasseeing the Flyers, fans in Philadelphia cried out: “Fire Holmgren! Fire Holmgren! Fire Holmgren!”
Paul Holmgren, they were talking about, the general manager. “We just folded up like a cheap suit,” he said after the game.
When Semyon Varlamov was arrested this week by Denver police, charged with kidnapping and assaulting his girlfriend, his father said that no crime had been committed, whatsoever.
In the Colorado goalie’s native Russia, the head of the State Duma Committee for Physical Culture, Sport and Youth Affairs suspected that there was a plot afoot. The Voice of Russia quoted Igor Ananskykh:
“The situation is really strange, given that the Sochi Olympics will take place soon and Varlamov is a candidate to become part of our national hockey team which we do count on. What about presumption of innocence? It’s not normal at all. Varlamov will fall out of the training process which will have an impact on his readiness before the Olympics in Sochi. The first thing that comes to my mind is that it is an effort to weaken our national team.”
Varlamov went to court on Thursday and was released on a bond of US$5,000. The Denver Post struggled to put it all in perspective.
The Avalanche are off to a torrid 10-1 start and have become the talk of hockey under first-year coach Patrick Roy. Duchene doesn’t think this will derail the Avalanche.
“You just don’t think about it,” Duchene said. “It’s tough. You’re concerned about your teammate. We all love Varly in here. I can’t say enough great things about him. I think we’re all pretty confident this is going to get resolved pretty quickly.”
Varlamov played on Friday night in Dallas and won. Coach Roy said afterwards that the team wanted to show it’s a family. A reporter asked: Does this show that Varlamov can handle adversity?
Jacques Plante was allergic, meanwhile, to Toronto. That wasn’t this week — that’s an old story, resurrected on the occasion of Friday’s anniversary of the night in 1959 that Plante first put on a mask in the Montreal goal.
Maybe you remember? In New York that night, Andy Bathgate’s backhand from 15 feet caught Plante on the left side of his nose. That’s how The Jacques Plante Story (1972) tells it, the book the goalie wrote with Andy O’Brien. Bathgate “blasted” it — unless, as Raymond Plante’s Jacques Plante: Behind The Mask (1996) says, he “slammed” it.
When Todd Denault talked to Bathgate for Jacques Plante: The Man Who Changed The Face of Hockey (2009), he said it was a wrist shot, not too hard, though decidedly vengeful. Plante had cut him previously in the game, and he was determined to get him back. Continue reading