Should Kostopoulos Be Suspended?

Pat Steinberg
January 08 2011 02:15PM

The video above is the best angle I was able to find when it comes to Tom Kostopoulos's hit on Detroit's Brad Stuart from last night.  The Flames ended up falling 5-4 in a shootout to the Red Wings and this happened midway through the third period.  Kostopoulos was handed a two minute roughing penalty, but in looking at it again, you can understand why many are saying the league should take a closer look.

Stuart is watching a bouncing puck near his own net and is in a vulnerable position when Kostopoulos comes flying in and clips him with a high hit to the head.  To me, there was intent to make contact with the head of an unsuspecting player.  As JF correctly points out below, it doesn't actually fall into the "blindside" category Rule 48 was set out to crack down on, however.

The talk of Stuart needing to keep his head up is ludicrous in my eyes.  Stuart was watching the puck because it was right beside the crease.  This wasn't a case of a player admiring his pass and getting clipped.  He shouldn't have to worry if a guy is going to come in and hammer him with a late hit.

My personal take is the Kostopoulos hit should be looked at, but it's so stupid to guess or speculate whether there will be a suspension or not.  It's too inconsistent a scale in this league to even guess.  Stuart is out 6-8 weeks with a broken jaw.

EDIT - The league suspended Kostopoulos six games for the hit, which was a little higher than I thought; I was thinking three would be the range.  Colin Cambpell admitted the injury came into it, and I think there's probably something to the "it's a Red Wings thing" too.

That all being said, I thought it was something that needed to be looked at.  But becuase the NHL has such grey area with this stuff, there's nothing that says a suspension was absolutely warranted, or absolutely not warranted.  The subjective nature of NHL disipline was once again on display here.  So, while I agree with a suspension myself, the arbitrary nature of getting to six games remains one of the most annoying things with this league.

1cd23297a0d13720ec2fc6d9740ce395
Pat Steinberg can be heard daily on the Fan960 in Calgary at can be read at the FAN 960. Born and raised in Calgary, Steinberg considers himself a huge fan of all sports including the CFL, MMA and 13 round bare knuckle boxing matches. Follow Steinberg on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Fan960Steinberg.
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#1 mikeecho
January 08 2011, 02:26PM
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He's just playing Darryl Sutter hockey!

I saw throw the book at him.

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#2 dave
January 08 2011, 02:37PM
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In my eyes, thats worth a suspension. Not sure how many games, probably 5+. Intent to injure

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#3 dotfras
January 08 2011, 02:51PM
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Yeah due to the fact that Stuart got badly injured I would say at least 3 games.

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#4 wattree
January 08 2011, 03:37PM
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Hate to be too cold blooded, but maybe we can get them to take a defenceman off our hands?

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#5 the forgotten man
January 08 2011, 04:07PM
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Man that was vicious and totally uncalled for...where does one begin. Kostopoulos has no intention of gaining possession of puck, deliberately targets Stuart who has already relinquished control of the puck, and to top off this "idiot sundae" Kostopoulos not just raises his elbow but drives it into his jaw. Why not just sucker punch the guy and take a little mercy on him!! This is the exact kind of "hit" that has no place in any sports league...Stuart jaw will never be the same after that blow - ask anyone who has ever had their jaw dislocated or broken due to trauma.

What knaws me the most is that Kostopoulos shouldn't even be playing in this league with what minimal skill level he possesses and just reinforces why Daz needed to hit the road.

I hope Butter had the balls to say something to Kostopoulos once he saw the replay and hopefully the NHL throws the book at him.

Shameful.

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#6 Karl
January 08 2011, 04:22PM
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Hit to the head, intent to injure, clearly no intention of playing the puck, player in a vulnerable position –If that’s not a clear case of what the NHL is trying to eradicate then I don’t know what is. 3 to 5 games is most likely what he’ll receive, but it should be 10.

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#7 thymebalm
January 08 2011, 05:11PM
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5+ games would be accurate according to the top secret NHL suspension flow chart as found here:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_Sv2kdfzI2zo/SvssRJgAB0I/AAAAAAAAACE/RXmL6oaTQG8/s1600-h/nhl+susp+flow+chart.gif

Really though, the forgotten man, are you actually trying to blame Darryl for this somehow? Give me a break. Kostopolous was a throw in and played very good hockey before he got a little too excited in a pressure situation.

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#8 negrilcowboy
January 08 2011, 06:51PM
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If the NHL is serious about the hits to the head, they should look no further than a very lengthy suspension. The intent to injure in the tommy alphabet cheap shot constitutes a minimum of 15 games. There was no intent to play the puck,but simply to injure, the sole purpose of this hit was to inflict serious head injury. The hit was not reactionary but malicious.

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#9 FireOnIce
January 08 2011, 07:00PM
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Meeting is set for 11am... tomorrow? According to Hot Stove.

Didn't see the game or the hit until today, but that is about as dirty as you can get. Stuart doesn't see him until the last second, and Kosto deliberately targets the head. Unnecessary too, as we were winning at that point (even if we were losing, still uncalled for).

And we have Mike Milbury up here on the Hot Stove talking about how the hit is "mean and nasty, but doesn't bring the elbow up and it's legal".

Even worse, now we can't get rid of Kosto, his trade value just hit the dirt.

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#10 Ethan
January 08 2011, 07:45PM
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How many of the above have ever played hockey? Kostopolous was simply finishing a hit, as any hockey player is taught to do. The fact that Stuart wiffed on the pass is irrelevant to the hit and if you watch the tape closely you can notice 2 Important things.

1. The hands are down, as Tom makes contact his hands are down and his shoulder simply makes contact with the head/chest at the same time. as you also notice he does not jump.

2. There was no original call on the play. Watch the referee beside the net, he simply points to circle for the next faceoff, not until there was a relevant injury was a penalty called.

This hit is not suspendable, there is no intent to injure and Kostopolous was simply finishing his check. The hit on Savard last fall was never suspended and it was a distinct blindside hit. This hit was a good, clean hockey hit.

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#11 JF
January 08 2011, 08:26PM
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Sorry Pat gotta disagree with this part...

"it falls right into the new "blindside" rule the NHL has created."

... the "blindside" rule was made to stem lateral hits to the head, that wasn't lateral as far as my view of it goes. That's not to say that it isn't suspension worthy but not on the basis of the new rule (a rule that's unfortunately been pretty subjective in it's use thus far).

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#12 negrilcowboy
January 08 2011, 08:52PM
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@Ethan

You are calling this a good check? no penalty? I suggest you objectively veiw the play. The head was targetted, and as for part of the play, kostopoulus has him in his crosshairs from above the hash marks.The opposition player was vulnerable, there was enough time for Kostopoulus to backoff, and he directs his elbow upward. He even adjusts his grip on his stick. And ethan, when I played this would have been considered a cheap shot by both teams, on his next shift he would have had his knees taken out.An eye for an eye,you cheap shot my teammate, we end your career. Tommy knew that detroit does employ an enforcer, and trust me when i tell you Bertuzzi prior to the Moore case would have laid a severe beating and not one Flame would have came to the cheap shot artists aid.

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#13 negrilcowboy
January 08 2011, 08:54PM
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detroit does not employ an enforcer, sorry for the typo.

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#14 robinrussia
January 08 2011, 10:20PM
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5 games+

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#15 Tony
January 09 2011, 12:24AM
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Ethan wrote:

How many of the above have ever played hockey? Kostopolous was simply finishing a hit, as any hockey player is taught to do. The fact that Stuart wiffed on the pass is irrelevant to the hit and if you watch the tape closely you can notice 2 Important things.

1. The hands are down, as Tom makes contact his hands are down and his shoulder simply makes contact with the head/chest at the same time. as you also notice he does not jump.

2. There was no original call on the play. Watch the referee beside the net, he simply points to circle for the next faceoff, not until there was a relevant injury was a penalty called.

This hit is not suspendable, there is no intent to injure and Kostopolous was simply finishing his check. The hit on Savard last fall was never suspended and it was a distinct blindside hit. This hit was a good, clean hockey hit.

I don't know if you are simply an avid Flames fan simply standing up for your boys (as I always would for my Maple Leafs) or as actually as ignorant as you sound when you say that.

1. The hit in question isn't a sucker punch and has nothing to do with his hands, so their position is irrelevant. The elbow was lifted perfectly showing his intent to hit Stuart where it hurts.

2. No original call was made because it escaped the referee's attention originally as he was focused on the puck and the players around it, which proves how far outside the actually play it was. Whenever there is blood drawn it automatically elicits at least a minor penalty.

The hit should result in at least a five game suspension. It was perfectly within Kostopoulos' abilities to two hands or a should into the chest or shoulder of Stuart and push him away from the play. He saw Stuart was vulnerable and saw an opportunity, whether he intended to injure Stuart is irrelevant, he used his elbow to hit Stuart from the blind-side in the head. This can be described as anything besides simply finishing a check.

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#16 the whole truth and nothing but the truth
January 09 2011, 01:53AM
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You don't need to intend to play the puck to hit someone. He (Stuart) was fair game because he touched the puck (look closely), and was still trying to play the puck when he was hit was made. Tom led with his shoulder and did not follow through or raise an elbow. Why do you think they say "keep your head up"? Because if you don't you might get hit and break your jaw. And just because you don't see a hit coming doesn't mean its not clean. Incidental contact was made to the head and an injury resulted. No suspension deserved.

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#17 the whole truth and nothing but the truth
January 09 2011, 02:22AM
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The act of hitting someone is meant to cause physical harm. Every hit is an intent to hurt a player, thus injuries may occur. Shame on you Flames fans for not supporting your player. The rest of the league and their fans will chastise him enough, I think he can do without the suspension chants coming from his own fan-base. No wonder your known as the most fickle fans in Canada; and the more I visit this site, the more apparent it becomes.

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#18 Karl
January 09 2011, 08:44AM
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@ The whole truth and nothing but the truth:

Wow, Watch the hit again and objectively look at it. - He is extending through his HIT with his forearm and elbow to his HEAD! – Players have hard Slash guards that extend from ones wrist to the end of ones elbow; it’s like a rock and was clearly used to inflict damage. -The player was still in a vulnerable position and the hit could have been avoided.

-The idea of hitting a player is to remove the player from the play-or dislodge the player from the puck or the puck from the player, not to inflict serious damage to that player, players do not go out to play hockey to hurt other players, there’s more respect then that amongst players. Unless it’s deemed a suspend able offense in which case this is.

-If you’re a fan of hockey and a flames fan then you will see the need for even stiffer penalties for shots to the head, we pay good money to see the best players in the world compete, how would you be reacting had that been Iggy out 8 weeks with a broken jaw? -Players have only one brain and it takes one hit to put a player out for life causing serious life altering changes for that individual, all because it’s deemed a clean hit! Because the player never left his feet, or the angel of approach was at such and such angel that the other player should have kept his head up! Seriously! Wake up! IT’S A HIT TO THE HEAD!!!!!! THE HEAD!!!

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#19 Ethan
January 09 2011, 09:08AM
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@ The whole truth and nothing but the truth

Thank-You, someone else who understands the game of hockey.

Yes i am a flames fan but if he had thrown an elbow i would be with the rest of you and be arguing he should be suspended but watch it, where is the elbow at the beginning of the hit?? his hands are simply raising in order to knock Stuart over, not to hit his face. The objective of a hit is to "remove the player from the play-or dislodge the player from the puck or the puck from the player" and that is done through knocking him over. if someones elbow goes from the middle of your chest to your nose it isnt gonna break your jaw, that is simply going to knock you over. the fact that Stuart was watching the puck still, trying to hit it again, is the reason Tom's SHOULDER hit his jaw, and subsequently breaking it.

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#20 Karl
January 09 2011, 09:28AM
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@Ethan

So you condone the hitting to the head? You deem that's a clean hit, by NHL or players standards? That a shoulder or hands is not the same as an elbow? You’re an idiot! I’m shocked that a fellow flame fan can be so stupid! It’s a hit to the HEAD you moron! And if it was Iggy you would be screaming bloody murder!

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#21 Tach
January 09 2011, 09:38AM
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It's clearly not a blindside hit, he hit him in the chest. I think the real infraction here is the charge/elbow. If Kostopolous is standing next to Stuart while Stuart is fishing for the puck and Kostopolous pushes him in the head/face, its a no call. But Kostopolous comes in charging and drills him. That is what lead to the injury.

I think 2 games.

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#22 Ethan
January 09 2011, 09:39AM
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Karl wrote:

@Ethan

So you condone the hitting to the head? You deem that's a clean hit, by NHL or players standards? That a shoulder or hands is not the same as an elbow? You’re an idiot! I’m shocked that a fellow flame fan can be so stupid! It’s a hit to the HEAD you moron! And if it was Iggy you would be screaming bloody murder!

No i do not condone hitting to the head, but the head was not the target in this hit. The fact that Stuart was still playing the puck was his fault. The hit was to the chest and incidentally hit his chin. The hit wasnt late, the hit wasnt an elbow, and the head was never targeted. Where in the rules is this illegal?

If this was Iggy I would be saying the same thing, he isnt any more special when it comes to the rules and this check is not dirty. Yes an injury occured but that is part of hockey, it was not the target. You obviously dont understand hockey nor have you played at any competitive level.

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#23 Karl
January 09 2011, 09:56AM
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@ Ethan Incidentally hit the chin? How does ones jaw break from incidentally hitting the shoulder? The head got hit. Whether it’s deemed legal by whomever standards the head was hit no question about that. My argument isn’t the fact the hit is legal or illegal; the argument is the player was in a venerable position; the head was hit and caused significant damage. Your dinosaur way of playing and thinking the game is changing even the hockey experts are calling this a hit to the head! So you don’t need to have “played” the game to recognize the hit is suspendable, I have played the game at the AJHL level and still play the game for the love of it, and I hope I never have to play the likes of you.

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#24 olderthendirt
January 09 2011, 10:03AM
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No matter how dirty there will always be fans to defend the players actions. I remember Vancouver fans defending Burtuzzi after he ended Moores career. You can clearly see the upwad motion just as he makes the hit. These are the plays that must be punished before someone dies.

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#25 Karl
January 09 2011, 10:16AM
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@ olderthendirt

Exactly, could not agree more.

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#26 JF
January 09 2011, 10:48AM
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@Karl

I dunno Karl... given enough force I don't see why a shoulder coundn't break a jaw or if the breaking occurred via hitting the ice after the collision. I can't find a good enough angle video of the hit to say either way.

Regardless, I don't think rule 48 applies here... I think they'll suspend him under it but that will just be because they'll lack for any other option.

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#27 Puckmaster
January 09 2011, 10:59AM
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@JF

Cant agree with you more, its not under rule 48 but the fact Stuart was injured will be the reason Tom gets a couple games in the Press Box. Which is too bad seeing he is supposed to play his old team on Tuesday.

@Karl

AJHL hey? would you like to share your hockeydb link for us?

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#28 the whole truth and nothing but the truth
January 09 2011, 12:19PM
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Karl wrote:

@ The whole truth and nothing but the truth:

Wow, Watch the hit again and objectively look at it. - He is extending through his HIT with his forearm and elbow to his HEAD! – Players have hard Slash guards that extend from ones wrist to the end of ones elbow; it’s like a rock and was clearly used to inflict damage. -The player was still in a vulnerable position and the hit could have been avoided.

-The idea of hitting a player is to remove the player from the play-or dislodge the player from the puck or the puck from the player, not to inflict serious damage to that player, players do not go out to play hockey to hurt other players, there’s more respect then that amongst players. Unless it’s deemed a suspend able offense in which case this is.

-If you’re a fan of hockey and a flames fan then you will see the need for even stiffer penalties for shots to the head, we pay good money to see the best players in the world compete, how would you be reacting had that been Iggy out 8 weeks with a broken jaw? -Players have only one brain and it takes one hit to put a player out for life causing serious life altering changes for that individual, all because it’s deemed a clean hit! Because the player never left his feet, or the angel of approach was at such and such angel that the other player should have kept his head up! Seriously! Wake up! IT’S A HIT TO THE HEAD!!!!!! THE HEAD!!!

I think its you who should watch the video again. I don't know whether or not you've ever played hockey, but when your going to hit someone you tuck the elbow in to brace yourself for impact. The elbow only came up after contact was made, which is a natural motion after a high impact hit. I'm curious of this Pat Steinberg fellow. I don't remember him putting up a video of the blindside hit on Moss earlier in the season. In fact, I don't even think there was a article about it. One would think an article of this nature would have been posted on the Red Wings page...

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#29 the whole truth and nothing but the truth
January 09 2011, 12:26PM
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If you haven't noticed Pat, I'm calling you out.

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#30 KingJafi
January 09 2011, 01:08PM
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No. Milbury was right on the Hot Stove last night. Stuart was clearing the puck and saw TK coming at him. Can I please know how and why TK's hit is suspendable and the Winter Classic hit on Crosby isn't? Makes no sense.

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#31 negrilcowboy
January 09 2011, 01:25PM
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@KingJafi

Laughable, the crosby incident at the winter clasic was not by any means deliberate or malicious. It was not a planned collision,just to players accidently bumping in to one another. And for the record, Tommy boy has a bit of a rep as a cheapshot artist. Watch the Van Ryn hit, Laroque doesn't even come to his aid,case closed. Sucked Timmo too, as well as a lot of border line hits as a hab.

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#32 JF
January 09 2011, 01:37PM
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@negrilcowboy

Meh, I don't think suspensions should be (albeit they generally are) judged on "deliberate or malicious"... I mean those two terms are entirely subjective the only person who knows if anything is deliberate is the performer and malicious is a matter of opinion. I also think the "repeat offender" creedo is bunk... either someone broke the rules to the extent that they should receive supplemental punishment in accordance with league rules or they didn't and shouldn't. Simple as that.

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#33 dotfras
January 09 2011, 02:01PM
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For those saying it was a "blind side" hit, you are wrong. He hit him straight on.

For those saying he was vulnerable, of course he was, but that was his fault for whiffing his stick at a bouncing puck and not preparing to get popped. Kostopolous plays on the fourth line, he is an energy player. His role is to create engery for the team. Obviously a huge hit is going to create engery, he was going for the big hit.

There are two problems with this hit:

A) He followed through with his arms. He could have kept his shoulder down & would have sent Stuart on his ass & the hit would have been a good hard hit. The fact that he drove his arms up & connected with Stuarts jaw is the main issue.

B) Stuart is injured. The league will definitely take that into consideration when deciding the length of the suspension.

My guess is 4 games. I don't think Kostopolous' attempt was to injure Stuart (Bertuzzi on Moore) but rather to lay him out. He hit him incorrectly which unfortunately led to Stuart's jaw exploding.

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#34 FireOnIce
January 09 2011, 03:00PM
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http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=348745

Kosto suspended for 6 games, Campbell saying it was due to "principle target was head, Stuart didn't have the puck/was unsuspecting, and the serious extent of injury".

Hit was deemed NOT blindside.

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#35 negrilcowboy
January 09 2011, 03:59PM
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@FireOnIce

6 games for kostopulous, is fine. The big picture is the Flames are now stuck with Kotalik in the line up. Thats the harshest punishment the Flames could get. Tommy hurt his team with this cheapshot.

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#36 FireOnIce
January 09 2011, 04:20PM
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Totally agree re: Kotalik. Unfortunately, this team may have depth, but it isn't ADEQUATE depth, to survive any player being out for any length of time.

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#37 SmellOfVictory
January 09 2011, 04:21PM
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@negrilcowboy

Or they could just put Conroy in.

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#38 negrilcowboy
January 09 2011, 04:55PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

Or they could just put Conroy in.

Is that an upgrade? Connie hasnt been in the lineup in weeks, and reason being he has been sub NHl for a year and a half.

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#39 mikeecho
January 09 2011, 05:06PM
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@negrilcowboy

50% of the Flames have been sub NHL for the last year and a half and still get ice time.

Conroy has played well in his appearances this year, unlike some others who are a detriment every time they step on the ice.

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#40 JF
January 09 2011, 08:12PM
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Weird, messages don't seem to be posting for me... hope this doesn't end up being triple posted.

Having seen this post... http://www.ontheforecheck.com/2011/1/9/1925057/nhl-head-shot-video-undercuts-kostopoulos-suspension ... and reviewed the league produced video on the rule I'm now actually calling bull on the suspension. Tell me how there is a difference between the Kostopolis hit and the hit at 2:53 of the NHL video that they held up as an example of a legal hit to the head?

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#41 SmellOfVictory
January 09 2011, 08:57PM
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negrilcowboy wrote:

Is that an upgrade? Connie hasnt been in the lineup in weeks, and reason being he has been sub NHl for a year and a half.

He hasn't been in the lineup in weeks because he's one of the cheapest forwards on the team and because there's a glut of centres. He's not great offensively, but he's one of the better defensive forwards on the team, and is a good 3rd/4th line center.

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#42 the forgotten man
January 09 2011, 09:52PM
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All I can say is that I hope I never end up on a rink/gymnasium floor or field with any of the commenters who think this hit was legit...on watching the replay again Kostopoulos doesn't even have the decency to just lead with his elbow but actually retracts it before shoving it forward and up as he makes contact with Stuart's jaw - stay classy Kosto. Playing devil's advocate, I guess Kostopoulos should get full marks for his timing and follow through (sic).

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#43 CitizenFlame
January 10 2011, 01:29AM
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I thought 6 games was harsh. I thought 3 would have been in more in line with the type of hit. I think that the referee got the call bang on too. The only problem I saw with the hit is that Stuart was vulnerable and Kosto took a run at him. Stuart took two or three whacks at the puck, so while he didn't have posession he was attempting to play the puck. Even the commentator on the video says that it was Kostopoulos shoulder that makes contact; not elbow. As for "intent" to injure, that is a subjective term and who can prove that? I also dislike the injury being taken into account for length of term. A player shouldn't get off for a cheap/dangerous play because the intended target was lucky enough to not be seriously injured. The play should be looked at objectively, without considering the extent to which a player was injured, or what the intent is alleged to have been.

I actually think that the Kostopoulos hit was unnecessary and shouldn't have taken place but I don't think it warranted 6 games. If Ovechkin threw that hit we're talking about a 2-3 game suspension.

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#44 icedawg_42
January 10 2011, 07:38AM
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When the hit happened I immediately thought "oooh...there's a suspension"..was surprised that he was only called for a minor. Finishing your check or not, that hit was over the top. 6 games is pretty harsh though, more than I expected. I thought 2 or 3.

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#47 Domebeers.com
January 10 2011, 02:19PM
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Clean hit. Looks like Staal on Stajan, just different place on the ice. Reminded me of the good old days. Way to go Tommy K.

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#48 the whole truth and nothing but the truth
January 10 2011, 02:52PM
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Whatever Steinberg. You were clearly leading the charge in suspending our own player... You would NEVER find this type of article on any of the sister sites.

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