Skategate II with Knights rankles 67's

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

LONDON -- Call it Skategate II.

67's trainer Brian Patafie is livid after the London Knights refused to let him fix the skate of Ottawa defenceman Brad Staubitz during their game Thursday night, causing the 67's star blueliner to miss almost a full period of hockey.

Patafie accused Knights VP and GM Mark Hunter of kicking him out of the Knights' equipment room and denying access to a riveting machine so the 67's would be deprived of Staubitz' services.

"Their equipment manager (Chris Maton) asked to come into our room (yesterday morning). He wanted to apologize," said Patafie. "He said it was Mark Hunter -- now verbatim -- he said Mark Hunter said, 'That is one of their best players. This is a life or death game. I don't want him in there. (Bleep) him. He's not going to play. If they can't fix his skate, he's not going to play.'

"I said to their equipment manager, 'Look, I'm going to get a copy of our roster. I need you to take it up to Mark Hunter and have him highlight the guys I'm okay to fix their equipment. It's absurd. This is the pinnacle? This tournament?

"They have done a fantastic job. An unbelievable job. This will just put a black mark on it."

Hunter disputed Patafie's claims.

"He came into our room without anybody and you can't just tell a stick boy or somebody you're going into the other team's dressing room," Hunter said. "Chris Maton helped him out, got it fixed and that was the end of that."

Staubitz broke the steel blade on his skate about eight minutes into the game, said Patafie.

It is protocol that the home team allow the visiting team's trainer access to things like the riveting machine, which is too big to bring on the road.

Patafie started to fix Staubitz' skate, but said he was confronted by Knights assistant GM Jim McKellar and a man Patafie identified as the Knights' team liaison, but could not name.

"(McKellar) came in and said, 'We want you out of the room.' I said, 'Well, I've got to fix this skate,' and he said: 'No, you are to leave this room.'

"I told matter of factly that he would have to physically throw me out of room because I'm not leaving and he said, 'Well, if that's what it was going to take.' I continued to do it and then (the liaison) came over and sort of bumped me.

"The bottom line is I told him I'd leave when there was one minute left in the period. I don't want to be in their room when the team comes in. Thing was, I could have had it done if they had just backed off."

STORE TO RESCUE

Patafie said Maton finished changing the steel during the intermission, but Staubitz was further delayed when he had to wait for a break in the play to get back on the ice in the second period.

To make matters worse, Staubitz' blades didn't match. The 67's finally got the entire moulding and blade changed at a local sporting goods store yesterday morning.

"I couldn't believe it," said Staubitz. "I couldn't believe we couldn't get into the equipment room for me to get my skate fixed. I just missed a bit of the game ... all the first period."

This adds to the bad blood between the 67's and Knights, who could meet in the Memorial Cup final tomorrow.

BLADES ORDERED OFF

The OHL final was marked by "Skategate" when the Knights complained to the league about the Overdrive blades on the skates of Ottawa goaltender Danny Battochio. The league ruled he had to take them off.

Patafie said when Sudbury had a problem with its skate sharpener in the second round, 67's coach and GM Brian Kilrea instructed him to loan Ottawa's to the Wolves.

"He told them they could take ours home for Game 5," said Patafie.

"That's the difference. That's the difference between the Hall of Fame and the hall of shame."

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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