|NHL handles Jonathan Toews injury scare the right way, Blackhawks don’t||12.12.14 at 5:23 pm ET|
The NHL does not want Jonathan Toews to get hurt. Neither does Dennis Seidenberg. Yet while the league was smart in reacting to Thursday night’s scary play, the Blackhawks themselves were not.
The Department of Player Safety chose the perhaps not-so-popular, but rational option in assessing Boston’s defenseman no supplemental discipline for a play that resulted in Chicago’s captain going face-first into the end boards at TD Garden.
The play was not a “hit,” nor was it dirty. Seidenberg was battling for position chasing a loose puck and tried to put his left arm under and in front of Toews’ right arm to gain leverage. He outmuscled Toews, but rather than Toews being knocked off the puck, his feet as he tried to turn away took him into the boards.
It was fast, it was scary and it’s the last thing either team wanted to see. It wasn’t dirty. If the result of the play was anything but Toews hitting the boards, the takeaway by any and every observer would be surprise at how easily Toews was knocked off the puck.
It’s understandable why anyone outside of Boston might be upset with the play. The league doesn’t want its stars getting hurt and it also doesn’t want to admit ‘ as it effectively did by not punishing Seidenberg ‘ that bad things such as head injuries are going to happen even when guys play within the rules.
Still, by not punishing Seidenberg they avoided an equally big mess of an issue, as suspending Seidenberg would have sent the message that you’re not allowed to be stronger than the guy you’re battling.
Claude Julien, who blamed the play on Toews after the game, said Friday that he was relieved that the league let Seidenberg off.
“I looked at it again. You look at those things and you look at it quick,” Julien said. “I say the same thing: I’m not necessarily saying that’s the situation, but sometimes we’ve got to protect ourselves as players. Dennis is a strong individual, and he went in there to close the gap quickly away from the boards.”
Asked whether he would have called the play a “hit,” Julien said he wasn’t sure that Seidenberg deserved a boarding penalty.
“It’s debatable. It’s debatable,” Julien said. “It depends on who you talk to and how you look at it. I looked at it again, and I’m saying the same thing. It’s debatable whether it’s a penalty or not. He did go in head-first and it looks like he was going the other way and Dennis did what he had to do [on the penalty kill], was get on him aggressively and try and close the gap.”
The issue actually shouldn’t be with Seidenberg, Toews or Julien. It should be with Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and anyone else who decided to keep Toews on the ice.
Somehow, that’s where Toews was for Chicago’s five-on-three after the play. He took a penalty during that five-on-three and then had another three-second shift before leaving the game for good.
Quenneville said after the game that Toews “seemed all right.” Still, two more shifts before hitting the showers is absurd for a guy with a history of concussions. Players are supposed to go to the quiet room and go through the proper protocol after concussion scares, and Thursday night’s play was undoubtedly a concussion scare.
The play itself was unfortunate, but at the very least, the Department of Player Safety did the right thing. That’s more than the Blackhawks can say for themselves.
|Dennis Seidenberg avoids discipline for Jonathan Toews play||at 12:54 pm ET|
“It’s definitely good news and definitely a relief not to get suspended or fined or any of that stuff,” Seidenberg said after Friday’s practice.
Toews was chasing a puck into the corner after missing an open net during a second-period power play when, in an attempt to battle for position, Seidenberg knocked the Blackhawks star off the puck, sending him face-first into the boards.
Seidenberg, who was assessed a boarding minor for the play, maintained Friday that he was simply trying to outmuscle the player.
“I still believe that I went for his shoulder to the side and he kind of spun off, but then again, you look at the replays and he goes into the boards really awkwardly and dangerously,” Seidenberg said. “It looks dangerous, and again, I don’t want to hurt a guy on the ice. I play the battles and try to play them hard.”
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Dennis Seidenberg knew his hit on Jonathan Toews looked bad the moment it happened in the second period, as the Bruins were trying to kill off the final minute of consecutive penalties that put the Bruins in penalty kill mode.
But the strong, hulking defenseman made a point after the game that he meant no harm and certainly didn’t intend to put Toews out of of commission for the rest of the game. For the record, 49 seconds after getting hit by Seidenberg, Toews was actually on the ice, getting called for hooking Chris Kelly.
But after serving his hooking penalty, Toews went to the Chicago dressing room and did not return.
After the game, Seidenberg insisted he meant no harm toward Chicago’s star center.
“I pride myself on being a clean player and a hard player to play against, so when I went in on that one-on-one battle there, I thought I saw his right shoulder and at the last second he might have turned, I don’t know,” Seidenberg said. “I didn’t really see the replay or anything and obviously I never want to see a guy go into the boards like that.
“I would never want to hurt a guy,” he added. “That’s the last thing on my mind. I like playing hard and winning my board battles and that’s about it.”
|Claude Julien suggests Jonathan Toews shoulders some responsibility for his own injury||12.11.14 at 11:47 pm ET|
But he also feels Toews and others should be taught better how to handle themselves when they are approaching the boards. In short, Julien suggested that Toews shoulders some responsibility for the violent collision with the boards that resulted in him missing the entire third period.
“I’ve been saying that for a long time, we need to educate our players to protect themselves better,” Julien said. “We keep turning our backs, we keep trying to curl away.”
Then Julien came to the defense of his defenseman, who picked up a two-minute boarding penalty.
“A player’s job is to finish his check and a player should know he’s going to be hit,” Julien added. “It’s not about tonight, it’s about the whole league. I’m one of those guys who has put a lot of pressure on people who look at those kind of things and say, ‘It’s OK to take away those hits from hits from behind when they’re warranted. But what about the other guy? Does he not have a responsibility?'”
Julien brought up another big hit just two nights ago in Minnesota for some added perspective. Midway through the second period of the Wild’s 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders, Minnesota’s Keith Ballard and the Islanders’ Matt Martin were involved in a scary incident along the boards.
As Ballard dumped the puck in from center ice, Martin hit him, but not before the Wild defenseman turned his body toward the boards. Ballard’s head ended up hitting the dasher, as well as the ice. Martin, unlike Seidenberg, was not given a penalty on the play, as it appeared Ballard turned his back to Martin at the last moment before Martin’s hit.
“I looked at the Ballard hit, or the hit on Ballard from Martin,” Julien said. “So, Martin didn’t get a penalty on that and I think Ballard saw him coming and he turned and the consequences aren’t what you want to see from a player being hit like him. Certainly don’t like seeing those kinds of things, but this is where it’s important to take care of ourselves.
“So, I view that five-on-three we’re going to close a gap quickly and Dennis is a strong individual. So, is he supposed to get weak because of that situation? Or he just plays to his strength. Again, I wasn’t happy. I looked at it, and it could be arguable, but from my end of it I think it’s what it is. Our guys need to finish their checks and sure, you’ve got to be careful, but I’m sure he knew that he was coming.”
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|Jonathan Toews contract puts Patrice Bergeron’s deal in perspective||07.09.14 at 3:45 pm ET|
On Wednesday, the Blackhawks finally delivered the mega-contracts to their mega-stars that the hockey world had seen coming for a mega-long time. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane got, as they say, paid.
The numbers were the same for each: Eight years and $84 million, with the deals carrying annual cap hits of $10.5 million.
That’s a boatload of money, but great players in their prime get paid boatloads of money. Both contracts should be met with initial shock at the dollars followed by an understanding that the cap goes up over the years and that we’re talking about two of the best players in the league.
The Bruins don’t have a player like Kane, and not many teams do. However, Toews and Patrice Bergeron have spent the last few years (and figure to spend many more) battling one another for the Selke Trophy as the league’s top two-way forward.
Last summer, Bergeron got a mega-extension of his own: Eight years worth $52 million with an annual cap hit of $6.5 million.
Now, there are obvious differences between Bergeron and Toews, with the biggest one that Toews is a better player, particularly offensively — that one’s kind of the biggie here.
They’re also different ages. Bergeron will turn 29 years old later this month, while Toews turned 26 in April.
Still, considering the two players are compared to one another each year in the Selke race (Toews edged Bergeron in the 2013 season, Bergeron won for the second time in three years this past season), it’s worth comparing the two contracts. The immediate takeaway from Toews’ deal is that, at $4 million against the cap less each year, Peter Chiarelli got Bergeron, perhaps for the rest of his career, at a pretty sweet rate.
Last season, the players put up similar offensive numbers, with Toews’ 68 points over 76 games edging Bergeron’s 62 points over 80, but Bergeron put up 30 goals while Toews netted 28. Bergeron’s faceoff numbers (third in faceoff percentage; Toews was fifth) and superior advanced stats (he finished third in the league among players with 25 or more games in Corsi Rel; Toews was 22nd) made him the Selke winner in the eyes of the Pro Hockey Writers Association.
It should be expected that Toews will regularly outproduce Bergeron offensively, while Bergeron figures to remain the better defensive player. They aren’t the same player, but they’re closer than their contracts suggest. Neither deal has begun yet (Bergeron’s starts this coming season, Toews’ the year after that), but count Bergeron’s as another savvy signing for Chiarelli.
|Blackhawks’ top line breaks down Bruins defense at crucial moments||06.25.13 at 2:18 am ET|
With less than two minutes remaining in Game 6 and the Bruins protecting a 2-1 lead, the time had come for both Boston and Chicago to do what they’d been known for this postseason: For the former, play airtight defense. For the latter, cut to the net and find a way to make something happen on offense.
In the end, it was the unstoppable force of Chicago’s scorers that budged the once-immovable Bruins defense, scoring a goal against each of the Bruins’ top two defensive pairs in the game’s final 90 seconds to secure the Stanley Cup victory.
Patrick Kane lifted the Conn Smythe trophy as the playoff MVP, earning it with nine goals and 10 assists (second only to David Krejci in points). But it was his whole line, with Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell, that exploited the crack they saw in the B’s defensive zone coverage as regulation slipped away.
After Kane took a shot from the left faceoff dot, Toews grabbed the puck when it came out of a scrum low in the Bruins’ zone and found Bickell in front of the net. Zdeno Chara was between Toews and Bickell, but couldn’t react fast enough to pick off the pass or tie up Bickell. He was still turning to face Bickell as the winger fired over Tuukka Rask to tie the game with 1:16 remaining.
Much was made of Toews’ low point totals throughout the playoffs, but his puck possession numbers in the postseason were impressive. His on-ice Corsi number, which measures the number of shots the Hawks generated compared to their opponents when he was on the ice, was 28.15 per 60 minutes, best in the playoffs, entering Game 6.
Whenever Joel Quenneville played Toews with Kane and Bickell — in Detroit and Los Angeles, as well as in Boston — the results came for the line, if not always for the captain. In the Finals, once the line was reunited in Game 4, it combined for six goals in three games.
“He had a monster game,” Quenneville said of Toews, whose health had been in question after Game 5. “He was fine. He looked ready to go at the end of the last game, and I thought he looked very good yesterday and was ready to go last night and today. The bigger the game, the bigger the setting, you know what you’re going to get from Jonathan Toews. He just knows how to play hockey. Whether he’s productive or not, absorbs a lot of big minutes from their match-up guys and he never gets outscored. His production sometimes gets criticized. The one thing is he plays the way you want a hockey player to play, and our captain, as well.”
|Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron both expected to play Game 6||06.24.13 at 11:59 am ET|
Things are looking up for a couple of banged-up Selke winners, as Bruins coach Claude Julien said in French after Monday’s morning skate that Patrice Bergeron “will play” Game 6 after leaving Game 5 with an undisclosed injury, while Jonathan Toews skated Monday for the Blackhawks and told reporters he’ll play as well.
Bergeron was not on the ice for morning skate, but Julien gave the encouraging update following his absence.
“Patrice will dress for warmup tonight,” Julien said. “I’m feeling confident he will play.”
Asked the same question in French, Julien responded (translated), “Patrice will play tonight.”
Both Jay Pandolfo and Jordan Caron took turns on the fourth line in morning skate, with Soderberg centering the second line in Bergeron’s absence. Julien said that if Bergeron is out and Soderberg plays on the second line, he will have decisions to make on the fourth line. As such, both Pandolfo and Caron will both take part in the warmup.
On the Blackhawks’ end of things, Toews took part in morning skate, two days after the Chicago captain missed the third period of Game 5 following a hit from Johnny Boychuk. Marian Hossa, who missed Game 3 but has played the last two games, was not on the ice for morning skate. Hossa’s absence shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he has missed morning skates despite remaining in the Blackhawks’ lineup.
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