Apparently Bill Peters is not the only NHL coach who has kicked a player when behind the bench.
Who knew this was a thing?
“Marc Crawford kicked me once,” Sean Avery told The Post, before relaying details of the incident that took place during the 2006-07 season when they were together in Los Angeles.
My first instinct was to ask Avery: Only once and only Crawford? But instead I allowed Page Six Sean to tell the story.
“This was right after I [messed] up a drill and dumped the puck into the wrong corner, and it landed on Crow’s head and cut him for six [stitches],” Avery said. “He kicked me during a game.”
“Oh, so he kicked you during the next game because of the drill?” I naturally inquired.
“No, he kicked me after a too-many-men-on-the-ice call I took,” Avery said. “He didn’t have me serve it, we got scored on, and he let me have it.
“You know how I stand at the end of the bench? He came down and gave me an ass kick that left a mark.”
Crawford is currently an assistant coach with the Blackhawks.
The incident can be traced to the Dec. 23, 2006, match at Nashville in which the Kings were assessed a too-many-men penalty at 19:18 of the second period, 36 seconds before J.P. Dumont scored the Predators’ sixth goal in a 7-0 victory.
On Feb. 5, 2007, Avery was sent to the Rangers for the first time.
“You think that incident was the reason you were traded?” I asked.
“No, no,” Avery said. “That was because I squared off with and tried to fight Mark Hardy, who was one of our assistant coaches, on the ice.
“Matty Norstrom saved his life.”
The racist vitriol spewed at Akim Aliu by Peters, the now-former coach of the Flames, when he and the player were together at AHL Rockford during the 2009-10 season, is no laughing matter. The language was repugnant and inexcusable. On this, there can be no debate.
That is something quite apart from revelations that this same Peters kicked at least one player from behind the bench during his tenure coaching the Hurricanes from 2014-15 through 2017-18. This was reported up the chain to then-general manager Ron Francis, who handled matters internally and released a statement Saturday saying he took the matter seriously.
Whether the NHL disciplines the Hurricanes for the failure to notify the league of the matter remains to be seen. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly, when asked that question in an email exchange, told The Post, “I think it is fair to say that we are looking into all allegations relating to Bill Peters, and I would leave it there.”
Hockey culture has always featured a xenophobic push-back against Others. This did not begin with Don Cherry abusing his privileges behind the CBC and “Hockey Night in Canada” microphone that he weaponized into a bullhorn. It probably won’t end with his long-overdue exit from Canada’s pulpit, either.
Anders Hedberg’s and Ulf Nilsson’s bodies would be marked by welts and marks after essentially every game as a consequence of the jabs and spears they took from North American opponents throughout the Swedes’ first year on Broadway and in the NHL in 1978-79.
The venom and incessant cheap shots directed toward Slava Fetisov when he left the Red Army to join the Devils in 1988-89 was disgraceful. And, sorry to report, some of the venom was directed at the Great Man from his teammates.
So yes, hockey has had intrinsic problems for a long time, and yes, it was an ugly week for the sport that likely won’t be the only one. We can expect athletes to continue to speak their piece and there is not a reason on earth to question the motivation of any scarred individual who sheds a light on past abuse.
But hockey’s issues are not very much different at all from the problems that infest society at large. My world view, developed as I was growing of (draft) age during Vietnam and ratified over the decades since, is that those in power tend to abuse it and thus should be relentlessly questioned.
Hockey must do better at all levels.
Hockey is not alone.
The NHL makes itself an easy target for its half-in, half-out, CTE-denying approach to dealing with head hits and concussions.
But the players themselves are not immune to criticism in this arena, the latest example provided by the Licker himself, Brad Marchand, after he was pulled from Friday’s Bruins-Rangers game in Boston by a spotter after he took an elbow from Jacob Trouba. Marchand was pulled at the start of the third period though he’d taken the blow late in the second.
“That’s embarrassing. They had 20 minutes to sit there and view the tape and call that in. But they make me come out in a 2-1 game when we’re just starting to get some momentum,” he said. “Guy up there is busy eating pizza and cheeseburgers and can’t watch the game.
“Maybe next time he’ll pull his head out of his butt and watch the game. I skated into his elbow but I was fine.”
Marchand later did change his tune, tweeting an apology — “I know the spotters are there to help us and I shouldn’t have taken my frustrations out on them.” — that did seem somewhat more sincere than the one issued by Peters.
Finally, if George Parros, the head of the NHL Department of Player Safety, had made an on-ice decision as egregious as he did in suspendingthe Blues’ Robert Bortuzzo for merely four games for his malevolent cross-check to the lower back delivered with such force that his victim, the Predators’ Viktor Arvidsson, will be sidelined up to six weeks, the Princeton grad would have been waived in a matter of minutes.
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