In Thursday’s Puck Daddy series, “Hockey Guilty Pleasures,” I listed this ’91 Ryan Vandenbussche/Tom Sullivan fight my favourite of all time and stand by it.
One thing I’m planning on doing in The Sheet blog is highlight some of the best fights I’ve come across in hockey at every level and also do a series blowing up this idea that respect ever existed in the game of hockey. Not sure about you but one of my pet peeves is hearing people talk about how once upon a time, players had respect for one another when they played hockey unlike the punks of today’s game.
I would actually argue that hockey has more respect in it now than it’s ever had and it will be my pleasure to point out and air some of the ‘classier’ or ‘respectful’ moments in the game. You know, like the Derek Sanderson/Bob Falkenberg incident from the ’65 Memorial Cup? Or the Rick Jodzio attack on Marc Tardif in ’76 in the WHA. Or the Bernie Geoffrion stick assault on the Rangers’ Ron Murphy in ’53.
And the list goes on and on: Polonich/Paiement, Shore/Bailey, Green/Maki, Richard/Laycoe, etc …
As one former player with the Buffalo Sabres once told me, “Half the guys I played with and against should have been put in jail.”
Folks, at one point, Canadian arenas would have to play “God Save the Queen” during hockey brawls because it was the only way to get players to stop fighting (upon hearing the song, Canadians were instructed to stop what they were doing and stand at attention).
As we mentioned on Thursday, the semifinals for the Ivan Hlinka U18 are set to go on Friday with Canada taking on Russia and Sweden facing off against Finland.
The Finns boast the tournament’s top scorer, Teuvo Teravainen, who has netted eight points in three games. Teravainen reminds some of Saku Koivu because of his slight stature (5’10, 160lbs) but the shifty forward says he patterns his game after Patrick Kane and Pavel Datsyuk.
Then there’s Russia’s Mikhail Grigorenko who many consider to be the top draft prospect in 2012. Four points in three games is OK, but Grigorenko was supposed to dominate this tournament as his game has been compared to both Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Ovechkin. At times, he’s looked strong; at others, invisible. But that’s always been the knock on the player and something the Quebec Remparts (he intends to make the jump to the QMJHL for Patrick Roy’s team this season) and junior hockey followers will learn this season. His talents are elite level but he just doesn’t bring it night in and night out.
Notes: The Buffalo Sabres signed breakout defenceman Marc-Andre Gragnani to a one-year contract on Thursday. Gragnani joined the Sabres towards the end of the season and was awarded the AHL’s Eddie Shore award for top defenceman. At the end of the Sabres year, Gragnani was sent to pay with Team Canada at the World Championship because in order to send him down to Portland of the AHL for the payoffs he’d have to clear waivers and there was about zero chance of that happening.
– Good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs as Matthew Lombardi will attend training camp. Can’t imagine they’d let him jump right back in after missing pretty well all of last season with a concussion but I’d think it’ll be ‘kid gloves’ with Lombardi for a period of time. If he’s healthy and no longer feeling the effects of his concussion, Phil Kessel may finally have a playmaking centre who can keep up with his speed.
– In OHL news, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds leading scorer and Buffalo Sabres third-round draft pick in 2011 Daniel Catenacci has demanded a trade. This is not a recent development as the request was made in mid-July and it’s up to ‘Hound GM Kyle Dubas to make this tricky deal happen. It’ll have to be a difference-maker and picks coming back the other way.
This day in hockey history
1912: Walt Farrant born in Toronto, ON. He played exactly one game in the NHL, for Chicago in 1941 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Farrant was 31-years old when he finally got the call.
1942: Goaltender Pat Rupp born in Detroit, MI. Yup, here’s another one and done. Rupp played a single game in the NHL when he replaced Terry Sawchuk on Mar. 22, 1964. Afterwards, he was sent back to the minors where he finished his career with the Dayton Gems of the IHL.
1947: Jake Rathwell born in Temiscamingue, QC. Rathwell, like Farrant and Rupp above here, played exactly one game, on Jan. 27, 1975 for the Boston Bruins. But what’s remarkable about this one particular game is it featured three players from the tiny Quebec town (Andre Savard and Richard Lemieux the other two). I swear one day I have to write a blog about all ‘one-game wonders’ in the history of the NHL.
1985: Detroit picks up free agent Mike McEwen from Washington. McEwen may forever be remembered for his incident(s) with Colorado Rockies coach Don Cherry who McEwen once accused of getting physical with him on the bench during a game in 1980. Cherry was furious at McEwen for staying on the ice too long, which lead to a Chicago goal and also never forgave McEwen for accidentally injuring Rene Robert in practice. McEwen demanded a trade but before that could happen, Cherry was fired.
1993: Dallas Stars signed free agent defenceman Grant Ledyard. Grant’s father, Hal, was a star CFL quarterback who tragically drowned in a freak accident after he retired. After a junior career that saw him star as an offensive blueliner, he became a responsible d-man who looked after his own end at the cost of putting up points.
1993: Ottawa Senators signed free agent Vladimir Ruzicka. In his first NHL game with the Oilers, Ruzicka was assessed a minor penalty for leaving the bench to congratulate his netminder, Bill Ranford, on a good period of play. While allowed in Europe, this is a penalty in the NHL. Traded to Boston for Greg Hawgood, he became the first Czech player to ever suit up for the Bruins. In Ottawa, things didn’t go very well as he feuded openly with assistant coach Rick Bowness. During one practice, Bowness kicked Ruzicka off the ice, screamed four-letter words at him and smashed his stick. Ruzicka was soon thereafter placed on waivers and went to play in Switzerland.
1997: Dallas Stars signed Tony Hrkac. The Hrkac Circus! Anyone remember the Hrkac Circus line from North Dakota with Bob Joyce and Steve Johnson? Hrkac was the first UND player to win the Hobey Baker award in 1987, the same year he scored eight points against Michigan State in a single game. That year, Hrkac scored 46 goals in 48 games and put up 116 points. At the end of that season (one that saw the Fighting Sioux win the national championship) Hrkac turned pro with the St. Louis Blues and joined them for their playoff run when Mark Hunter went down with a shoulder injury.
The Sheet reader profile
Name: Matthew Wilson
Earliest hockey memory: In the streets. While every child is out on the frozen ponds in the winter up in Minnesota or Ontario, that’s not always a luxury in some places. For instance, born and raised just outside the wonderful city of Chicago, where hockey isn’t as dominant in youth sports, most children first get their start with the old Franklin sticks, goalie set and a net.
It was Christmas of 1993, I was eight-years old and me and my two brothers received a bounty of hockey equipment that hooked us in to the amazing sport. I may have started late, but that was the tip of the iceberg to drop-ins, adult leagues and pond hockey later down the road. Also, growing up a Red Wings fan as a lad, my father, a Blackhawks fan, took me to a Redwings vs. Blackhawks game in December of 1999. That was a pretty special moment in terms of attending a game, and a special father-son moment. Thanks, dad.
Favourite YouTube hockey moment: When picking a favourite moment on YouTube, it’s best to pick a clip that wouldn’t be presented to us if it weren’t for the website. Recent history serves me best and that’s why I’m going with the lacrosse goal. OK, it’s Team Finland’s Mikael Granlund scoring a lacrosse-style wraparound goal against Team Russia in May of this year’s IIHF World Championship semifinal. That goal is the kind of gold you and your buddies will try to do while spending all day at the rink: trying out an assortment of creative moves. And Granlund scores it on a pretty big stage.