The Day After…

“You can go out, you can take a ride
And when you get out on your own
You get all smoothed out inside
And it’s good to be alone”

Face Up – Lyrics by Neil Peart

It was a late decision to drive myself to Kennewick yesterday instead of hopping the bus with the team.  Normally, I’d jump on the iron lung and make the trek, but I decided to drive myself as I had to do some business while in the car and that is easier to do from the comforts of my vehicle.

I admit I wasn’t a very happy camper (or Kemper for that matter) when I left the Toyota Center last night.  The game, obviously, didn’t turn out anywhere close to where the Hawks or their faithful thought it should and I admit that I was glad I could hop into my car, turn the IPod on shuffle, turn up the volume and, as the lyrics above suggest, get all “smoothed out inside”.

Ironically, the song “Face Up” was the second song to hit the playlist as I made my way toward home, preceded by another Rush song “Driven”, which talks about being “driven to the edge of a deep, dark hole”, and that wasn’t all that inspiring as I started my four hour trek back to Hillsboro.

The game itself, after the opening minute, wasn’t that bad for Portland as they created scoring chances and played evenly with the Americans for large sections of the opening 30 minutes, but the game took a nasty turn when Todd Kennedy went head-hunting (and there really isn’t any other way to describe it) on Eric Doyle in neutral ice.   Now, I like big open ice hits…the kind where a player puts there shoulder down and lays out a guy with a shoulder to shoulder or shoulder to chest hit.   This wasn’t one of those…the video evidence is here.

This is the exact kind of hit to the head that the hockey bodies are trying to remove from the game.  Kennedy is a physical player who hadn’t been in a game since early January due to an injury.  I understand he is trying to earn a regular spot in the Americans playing rotation, but this hit is senseless.  It is suspension worthy, the question is how many games?  We’ll find out soon enough, I guess…

As for Doyle, I left before I got an update on his situation so I can’t address that here, we’ll find out this weekend as the Hawks prepare for games with Seattle and Prince George.

After the hit, the Hawks got away from their game and paid the price being short-handed multiple times, including extended two-man disadvantages in the final 30 minutes.   In the end, the Ams had 13 power plays to four for Portland and that has been a trend in the series.  One of the reasons that Tri City is 7-1-0-0 against Portland is that in the eight games, Tri City has had 61 power plays in the series while the Hawks have had 32…a difference of 29.

In fact, for the season, the Hawks are -29 in power plays against the Ams and +2 against the rest of the WHL.  I’m not saying that Tri City didn’t deserve the extra man advantages, just that is has been a major factor in the series.

These two teams will meet again two more times, both in Portland, before the end of the season.  I’m hoping that the focus in those two is on hockey…

Next up…Seattle on Saturday…will Luca Sbisa be back for that?  Will Doyle be able to play?  Stay tuned…

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5 Comments

  1. I have been on the road and was not able to listen to the game. What was up with all the misconducts for the Hawks? I saw Kennedy’s hit to Doyle on your blog. Last year Tory got all bent out of shape about Ryan Letts hit to Pickard and made whining noises about a kid with no future in hockey hitting a kid like Pickard who has a future. Tory thought that Spokane should take some action against Letts for his actions. Well the shoe is on the other foot. Lets (no pun intended) see what Tory does with this one.

    I would like the final games with Tri Cities to focus on hockey. However, inside I would like to see Taylor Jordan kick Kennedy’s ass several times. If Jordan doesn’t feel like it, I would settle for Brad Ross.

    Bad hits like Kennedy’s need to be punished. Watch how it is done. Red Wings punished Claude Lemieux’s cheep shot to Kris Draper –

    A suspension is no match for personal pain and humiliation. Step up Jordan just like Darren McCarty and save the game.

  2. I actually made it to the game last night out of dumb luck. Had to be in the Tri Cities on business and ended up having to stay the night. It was a strange game to say the least. It’s the only Hawks game I’ve ever watched outside of Portland or Seattle and given the outcome, it was nothing less than surreal. The first minute was a cataclysm of tragic events. There’s poor play, and then there’s that. A perfect storm of shell-shocked play by the Hawks coupled with fortunate home team bounces. If I wasn’t there to see, there’s no way I’d be able to visualize what actually happened on the ice.

    After a few minutes of stunned play, the Hawks settled down and actually had the look of making a game of it. Ollie rang one off the INSIDE of the post which, if it had gone in, I think the game would have taken on a completely different identity. Even with it staying out, the Hawks had some solid territorial play and the defense was playing well. After the against-the-run-of-play PP goal in the second, the Hawks collapsed mentally. All hell broke loose at that point and the game took on a schoolyard feel. I actually think the officials did a good job managing things as they had the potential to get much worse.

    All in all, the Hawks have some serious demons to shake off in about three weeks time. Confidence is huge for a young team marching toward the playoffs, and it’s obvious it’s suffered some serious frame damage in the last week+.

  3. I’m a Ams fan and was at this game. I was searching the net trying to find a replay of the hit, when I found your blog. First let me say that I’m sorry Doyle got hurt, I hope he is back soon. At the game I only saw the collision and none of the preceding play, I looked away for a moment or something and turned back just in time to see the hit. I thought he must have taken a running start and crossed the whole rink based on the size of impact. The video did not look as bad as it did in person, nor did it appear he made a big run at him, he wasn’t exactly flying across the ice when hie hit him (you may disagree).

    I did not grow up watching or playing the game and I don’t have the background of someone who did, so I’m wondering what made this such a bad hit. If he had seen him coming would it have been a “bad hit” or a okay hit? Did he hit him too high, if he’d hit him lower down would it have been okay? If Doyle had not been knocked out or hurt would it have been a bad hit? If a smaller player had made that same hit would it still have been a bad hit? I guess what I’m asking is if things were reversed and Doyle had hit Kennedy how would you critique it?

    -greg

  4. Well Greg…
    IMO, what made it a bad hit is that Kennedy put his forearm/elbow to the head of Doyle. If he leads with his shoulder and hits him shoulder-to-shoulder, than it wouldn’t have been as bad of a hit. Kennedy did take more than two strides to deliver the check which constitutes the Charging call.

    If Doyle had done the same thing I would have called it the same way…a dangerous head-hunting hit that deserves to be punished.

    AK

  5. I agree, “Headhunting” is basically intentionaly making contact with the player you have in your sights head. It usually happens when tempers get up or when someone feels they have something to prove to a bigger older player. Its kind of sad to see in this league, but its a part of the game. That only OK thing that happens in that clip is Ponich giving Kennedy a lesson in what happens when you make cheap hits like that. Its this WHL fans opinion that any time one of the guys gets hit around the head hard enough to make his helmet fly off and drop him to the ice, its a bad thing. Hope Doyle is ok.


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