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Williams, Backstrom support crackdown on head shots


Williams, Backstrom support crackdown on head shots

Capitals veteran right wing and three-time Stanley Cup champion Justin Williams didn’t mince words when asked his thoughts on the 41-game suspension San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres received for his check to the head of Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

“It’s perfect,” Williams said. “Absolutely perfect. He’s become somewhat of a menace on the ice now.

“It’s not the way the game’s played anymore, not that it ever should have been.  My thoughts are what everyone else’s is: enough is enough. We all play the game hard, but those hits don’t belong anymore.”

The 41-game suspension was the longest since 1927 when Billy Coutu was banned for life for starting a bench-clearing brawl by attacking two referees. It was the fifth NHL suspension for Torres, who was also fined three times and warned twice for previous hits to the head. Torres will forfeit $440,860.29 in lost salary.

“The thing with him is that he’s done it over and over again and I think that’s why the NHL put its foot down and saw it was something wrong,” said Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, who four seasons ago missed 40 games with a concussion after an open-ice blow to the head from former Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque. Bourque received a five-game suspension for the hit.

“When you do it over and over again you don’t realize you’re actually hurting people instead of trying to play,” Backstrom said, “and that’s why I think it’s the right decision by the NHL.”

Capitals left wing Jason Chimera agreed that players need to be protected from illegal checks to the head, but as a former teammate of Torres (the two played together in Columbus) he sympathized with the 33-year-old winger.

“I know Raffi personally and he missed almost the whole year (last season) with his ACL and MCL rebuilt,” Chimera said. “Knowing him he was probably pretty jacked up just to be out there and do everything he could to get back into his game.

“He’s been known for big hits on the borderline of being dirty and not dirty. I don’t think his intention was to go over and hit (Silfverberg’s) head. It was to finish his check. Unfortunately, the principle contact was his head and obviously you don’t want to see anyone down like that. You don’t want Backy and guys like him down. It’s an unfortunate incident, for sure. Forty-one games is pretty stiff.”

Here is a list of the longest suspensions in NHL history, courtesy The Canadian Press:

Life: Billy Coutu, Boston Bruins, April 1927 for assaulting two referees and starting a Stanley Cup bench-clearing brawl. The ban was dropped after 2½ years, but Mr. Coutu never played in the NHL again.

41 games: Raffi Torres, San Jose Sharks, Oct. 5, 2015, for a check to the head of Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

30 games: Chris SimonNew York Islanders, Dec. 19, 2007, for slamming his skate into the foot of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jarkko Ruutu.

25 games: Raffi Torres, Phoenix Coyotes, April 21, 2012, for launching himself to deliver a late hit to the head of Chicago's Marian Hossa during a playoff game on April 19, 2012.

25 games: Jesse Boulerice, Philadelphia Flyers, Oct. 12, 2007, for cross-checking Vancouver centre Ryan Kesler across the face in a game on Oct. 10.

25 games: Chris Simon, New York Islanders, March 11, 2007, for the rest of the regular season (15 games) and playoffs for his two-handed stick attack to the face of New York Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg. Since Islanders played only five playoff games, suspension extended to first five games of 2007-08.

23 games: Marty McSorley, Boston Bruins, Feb. 2000, for knocking out Vancouver’sDonald Brashear with a stick-swinging hit. On Nov. 7, 2000, the suspension was extended by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to Feb. 20, 2001.

23 games: Gordie Dwyer, Tampa Bay Lightning, Sept. 19, 2000, for abusing officials and coming out of the penalty box to fight in an exhibition game against Washington.

21 games: Dale Hunter, Washington Capitals, May 1993, for a blindside check of Pierre Turgeon of the N.Y. Islanders after a goal in a playoff game.

20 games: Steve Downie, Philadelphia Flyers, Sept. 28, 2007, for leaving his feet to deliver a deliberate hit to the head Ottawa forward Dean McAmmond in a preseason game Sept. 25.

20 games: Todd Bertuzzi, Vancouver Canucks, March 11, 2004, for his sucker-punch of Colorado forward Steve Moore on March 8. Bertuzzi’s suspension was for 13 regular season games, plus playoffs. Bertuzzi was reinstated 17 months later, after the year-long lockout.

20 games: Tom Lysiak, Chicago Blackhawks, Oct. 1983, for intentionally tripping a linesman.

20 games: Brad May, Phoenix Coyotes, Nov. 15, 2000, for hitting Columbus’ Steve Heinze on the nose with his stick in a game on Nov. 11.

16 games: Eddie Shore, Boston Bruins, 1933, for hitting Toronto’s Ace Bailey over the head with his stick.

15 games: (3 regular-season, 12 playoff games) Maurice Richard, Montreal Canadiens, March 1955, for leveling linesman Cliff Thompson during a scuffle with Boston’s Hal Laycoe.

15 games: Wilf Paiement, Colorado Rockies, Oct. 1978, for swinging his stick and hitting Detroit’s Dennis Polonich in the face.

15 games: Dave Brown, Philadelphia Flyers, Nov. 1987, for cross-checking Tomas Sandstrom of the New York Rangers across the face and breaking his jaw.

15 games: Tony Granato, Los Angeles Kings, Feb. 1994, for slashing Pittsburgh’s Neil Wilkinson.

MORE CAPITALS: MacLellan explains why Capitals cut Derek Roy

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Being an Olympic hero is not all T.J. Oshie has in common with 2018 U.S. Women's hockey team

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Being an Olympic hero is not all T.J. Oshie has in common with 2018 U.S. Women's hockey team

Four years ago, Capitals forward T.J. Oshie was the shootout king in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. This time around Gigi Marvin was one of the Americans who provided the extra-time heroics for Team USA at Pyeongchang, carrying the women’s hockey team to the gold medal.

Ironically enough, they both were the King and Queen of their high school’s dance back in 2005.

Marvin and Oshie both went to Warroad High School in Minnesota. They graduated from the same class in 2005. Nearly every high school in the country would wish for just one Olympian, this one got two legends in one class.

Oshie famously took the puck six times for Team USA in a shootout to beat Russia back in 2014. Marvin scored the first tally of the shootout in the gold medal game against Canada. The United States would go on to win the match in seven rounds.

Oshie would go on to congratulate his fellow Warroad alum after the match.

Whoever cast the deciding votes, must have known that these two destined for glory. One could now call them the King and Queen of Olympic shootouts.


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Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital


Caps prospect watch: Boyd dedicates 4-goal performance to daughter after week in the hospital

It would have been understandable if Travis Boyd struggled this past week. Something more important was on his mind.

Boyd spent the week in the hospital with his daughter, Hayden, who had been experiencing pain in her throat. He spent the enitre week in the hospital, not leaving until Hershey's game against Laval.

Boyd turned this trial into something incredible as he scored four goals Friday in Hershey's 6-3 win.

Boyd spoke about the ordeal with Zach Fisch of the Bears Radio Network (transcription via RMNB).

“It actually started after the game last Sunday against Rochester," he said. "I went straight from the rink to Urgent Care and then from Urgent Care to the ER. Never left the hospital until Friday morning. We had a successful surgery on Thursday night. Basically just a bad infection in her throat that had to be surgically removed. They had to surgically go in and kind of remove the bacteria and drain out the fluids. Everything went well. She’s doing well.”

Following the game, Boyd dedicated his performance to Hayden.

A four-goal game at the AHL level would have been an incredible accomplishment on its own. The fact that it came during such a trying time for him makes this a truly inspirational story.

You can watch highlights of the game including all four of Boyd's goals here:


Other prospect notes:

  • In the Bears' game Friday against Laval, Riley Barber dropped the gloves with Markus Eisenchmid.  Barber was given an extra minor and game misconduct for instigating the fight in the final five minutes of the game. That penalty carries with it an automatic one-game suspension which Barber served Saturday. Here's a look at the fight.

  • Liam O'Brien had a pair of two-goal games over the week, scoring twice against Laval Friday and then two more against Toronto on Monday. Of his four goals, three of them were empty netters.
  • As the Capitals prepare for their Stadium Series game in Annapolis on March 3, Annapolis mayor Gavin Buckley—a native of Perth, Australia—made a plea to see Nathan Walker recalled for the game.  “I’ll have to put a quick shout out to the one Australian that’s playing for the Caps now, Nathan Walker. If you could just bring him up for this game, that’d be great. Because an Australian being in a hockey game is like a Jamaican bobsled team. It doesn’t happen very often.”

  • Brian Pinho was honored Friday in Providence College's Senior Night. He has served as captain of the team this season and as an assistant captain in his junior year. He spoke with The Cowl on what being a leader on the team means to him. "I think being a leader of this team is a great honor, but also a huge responsibility. I try to keep everything fun at the rink, while also bringing some intensity and competing hard every day.” You can read the full story here.
  • Goalie Adam Carlson, who was on loan to the Indy Fuel of the ECHL, was reassigned to the Kansas City Mavericks also of the ECHL. He started two games for his new team and turned aside 42 of the 48 total shots he faced.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in his week's updated rankings.