SUN Hockey Pool

Crashes tire out Kipper

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

Edmonton's Raffi Torres plowed into Miikka Kiprusoff in the home opener.

San Jose's Jonathan Cheechoo did the same a couple of nights later.

On Tuesday, it was Phoenix Coyotes forward Ladislav Nagy treating the Flames goaltender like a bowling pin.

Three home games, three crease crashes that left Kiprusoff looking like a '79 Pinto after a Deerfoot Trail pile-up.

Kiprusoff is as unflappable as they come but the star netminder is tired of being treated like a crash test dummy.

"We've been talking about it with our defencemen but there's not too much they can do," he said yesterday. "When they're driving to the net, the 'D' can't hold them, so they can pretty much come full speed and accidentally-on-purpose run over me. What are you gonna do? There should be something done."

One of the drawbacks of the new NHL is the amount of danger goaltenders face.

The crackdown on hooking and holding, which has opened up play and helped create more offence, also strictly prevents defencemen from tying up oncoming skaters as they approach the goalies.

Combined with the instigator rule -- severely punishing players who start a fight -- d-men can't dish out retribution for fear of receiving a stiffer sentence than the player whose collision starts a brouhaha.

"You are taught your whole life to stick up for your goalie and when you have to, you shouldn't be punished for it," said Rhett Warrener. "If a guy takes a run at a goalie, what are you supposed to do? Is it fair play if our goalie is on IR (injured reserve) because a guy ran him? I don't get it.

"They have to address it and they should do it sooner than later. We're not the only team that has to be concerned about it, every team has to be because we're all in the same situation.

"That's one of the areas where the NHL should maybe take a look and step in. You can't touch the guy going to the net," he continued. "If he hits the goalie, it should be at least two if not five, automatic."

Or else, Warrener forewarns, teams will be losing goalies due to injuries.

"It should be addressed by the higher ups because it's their stars that are gonna get hurt for no reason. Usually, it's not the star players doing the bumping," he said. "You want to go hard to the net, that's fine, but you run the risk of hitting him. Why does it take a goalie getting hurt before something gets done?

"And that's what's going to happen. Do it now before that happens. A goalie's gonna get hurt and there's gonna be a big stink. Why not do it before?"

Actually, Dan Cloutier -- then with the Vancouver Canucks -- had his season ended by a knee injury suffered in a crease-collision.

It's not just the big bangs for which Kiprusoff is seeking protection.

On more than one occasion this season he's been the victim of slight contact with opposing skaters. Whether it's players stepping into his crease or those who tug at his leg while skating by him.

"The referees, it's tough for them because they're focused on the puck," Kiprusoff said.


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