TAMPA, Fla. – No one saw it. No one will talk about it. And so we’ll move on.
Twice Andrew Shaw was asked a yes-or-no question Friday, his first media availability since he allegedly took a chomp into the midsection of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s No. 1 defenceman.
Did you bite Victor Hedman?
“It’s a hockey game,” the Chicago Blackhawks’ chief agitator replied.
And again: Is that a yes or no that you bit him?
“I’m not going to get into details,” Shaw said. “We’re here to focus on the next game and hockey.”
Neither club, nor the league wants the bite to become a bigger thing than it is already.
Following a second-period scrum between the two Wednesday, NBC’s cameras caught Hedman lifting his sweater on the bench and showing off a mark to Brenden Morrow and a trainer.
Asked post-game if Shaw had bitten him, Hedman said, “It felt like it. I have a little bit of a bruise.”
The NHL looked into the incident, but without clear video evidence, there is no grounds for supplementary discipline. Shaw would not say whether or not the league contacted him to discuss the scrum.
On Thursday coach Joel Quenneville joked that he had never been bitten by an opponent in his playing days. “Nor did I bite anyone,” he quipped.
“He’s one of their best players. He’s highly skilled—a big, strong defenceman with speed—and he went after one of our better players [Patrick Kane],” Shaw allowed.
“It creates the scrums. We just battled out there, and I expect battles with him in front of the net the rest of the series.”
Hedman said Friday that he’s been asked about the bite 14 times already, and he’s done commenting on it.
“Things happen during games. I’ll leave it at that,” Hedman said. “He’s a great player. He stood up for Kane, and I stood up for my goalie. That’s how things should be on the ice.”
Shaw, 23, embraces the role of Swede-disturber. Since youth he’s found a niche drawing penalties and creating havoc near the crease.
“My dad tried to get me away from it,” Shaw said. “He wanted me to just play hockey.”
Come Saturday, that’s just what they’ll do. The teeth marks in Hedman’s skin will have long faded, at least metaphorically, and Game 2 will give us another side-story to chew on.
“We stick together through thick and thin, and we expect their team to do the same,” Shaw said. “That’s what makes us a good team.”