The Bruins are the Canadiens foe tonight and the big story around them lately has been the remarks of defenceman Andrew Ference last Thursday following the blindside hit by teammate Daniel Paille on Dallas forward Raymond Sawada (below).
Sawada suffered a separated shoulder and a broken nose from the hit and the NHL suspended Paille for four games. Afterward, in the Bruins dressing room, Ference raised more than a few eyebrows when he criticized Paille for the hit.
Ference said he had thought a good deal about the way Sidney Crosby had
reacted, not being critical of Penguins teammate Matt Cooke after
Cooke’s blindside headshot on Marc Savard last year but outspoken about
blindside hits in January after he had been the victim. Ference said he wanted to be a good teammate, but he also felt it was important to not go against principle.
“I mean, it’s a bad hit, right?” Ference said on the Bruins’ NESN post-game show (video) That’s what they’re trying to get rid of
and you can’t be a hypocrite and complain about it when it happens to
you, and say it’s fine when your teammate does it. So, it’s a hit
they’re trying to get rid of. I mean you hear it from every player after
they do it, and they feel bad, and it’s same thing: I talked to Danny
and he feels bad. It’s tough. That backchecking forward, to make those
kind of hits now, it’s so hard to do it in a clean fashion with the new
rules. So, it is what it is. He hurt the guy, and I’m sure he’ll have a
And just so everyone heard him, shortly after, interviewed on the NHL Network, Ference said “The worst thing is when guys are hypocritical about hits and when a guy’s on your team, you hate to see that happen just as much as when your guy doe sit to somebody else. So it’s the hit they’re trying to get rid of. Whether it happens to us or we do it, it can’t happen and I’m sure, you know, I just talked to (Paille) two seconds ago and he feels awful about it and I’m sure that’s the same sentiment as anybody that has one of those hits. But at the end of the day, it’s the hit they’re trying to get rid of, it’s a hit that hurt the guy and it’s one of those things. You’ve got to get rid of it and it’s dangerous.”
Many in the media praised Ference for his honesty but, needless to say, Ference’s words didn’t sit very well with some of his teammates, including Paille, who said he didn’t think it was a bad hit and most of his teammates would agree. Some, like Bob McKenzie speaking Friday morning on the Team 990, said the big problem with Ference’s opinion was that he offered it before the NHL came down with a ruling.
Trying to diffuse any controversy, Patrice Bergeron, who also has been a headshot concussion victim, restated his position (video) that players have to be aware of the way they hit an opponant and denied there was a problem in the B’s room calling any bad feelings “more smoke than fire in the media.”
Don Cherry wasn’t buying it. After the B’s dropped a 2-0 game to the Sharks on Saturday afternoon, he blasted Ference on Coach’s Corner Saturday night (video) saying even if your teammate is an axe murderer, “you never go to the press and say that was a bad hit….I’d hate to be in that dressing room right now. See what happened in the
game today? 2-0. That brings your dressing room down when you have a
guy in the dressing room talking about your own players and you know
he’s going to be suspended.”
And it hasn’t died down yet. In this morning’s Boston Globe, sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy led off his piece with “Andrew Ference is my hero,” and went on from there not just to recount the entire incident but to ask a number of players what they think about Ference and Paille. He asked the two if they had second thoughts about things but they stuck to their guns. He asked Savard, who said he hadn’t known about the remarks. He spoke to GM Peter Chiarelli who seemed to take the team-first position, saying perhaps Ference should have watched the hit on tape before saying anything.
Mark Recchi explained to Shaughnessy he thought there really isn’t any friction “Andrew’s our teammate. They’re great
teammates and they’ve got each other’s back. Andrew was speaking in the
emotion after the game. It’s unfortunate that he’s taking the heat for
this. Andrew’s been a great teammate and great to all of us. He’d have
Danny’s back any day.
don’t think it’s a violation. Obviously it can get touchy and it’s
created a big stir. But we know Andrew is going to be there for us as a
teammate and a friend.’’
It will be interesting to watch the Bruins down the stretch to see if they are still the united team that they’ve been so far this season.