SUN Hockey Pool

Scrap super in Flames' eyes

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

It's not often the NHL is the lead item on Jim Rome's radio show.

But there's nothing like a good brawl to change that.

The 12-man scrap between the Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators was a hot topic on Rome yesterday and also made for some must-see TV for the Calgary Flames upon their return from Phoenix.

"When we heard about it, of course we're going to watch the highlights today," said Craig Conroy. "We want to see what happened."

As for whether or not the Flames felt the Sabres' reaction to a hard hit by Chris Neil that knocked Chris Drury out of the game was appropriate, they all agreed the Sabres felt it was and left it at that.

"It's hard to tell in slow motion how late (the hit) was," said Conroy. "I thought Buffalo thought it was late and they were pretty fired up."

Although it sometimes contributes to the false image of the NHL being a 'goon league,' Conroy and Tony Amonte, both Americans, agree the exposure is good for the game in the U.S.

"Every time there's a fight, every time there's something going on, that's what they want to talk about," said Conroy.

Said Amonte: "As long as hockey's being talked about, that's good."

The brawl -- which included goalies Ray Emery and Martin Biron going toe-to-toe before Emery was forced to dance with Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters -- is good for team unity, says Amonte.

"It's the way it used to be a long time ago," he said.

"When things weren't going well, they'd just go out there and have a line brawl or a bench-clearer or whatever watching the Bruins whenI was growing up."

Flames head coach Jim Playfair may have had a bit of a bias when asked for his take on the incident.

His brother Larry was a tough guy with the Sabres for two stints in the late 1970s and '80s and still lives in Buffalo.

"I have a soft spot in my heart for the Buffalo Sabres and fighting," Playfair said with a grin.

"I have a lot of respect for Lindy Ruff.

"Lindy played hard, Lindy played for keeps and certainly he wants his team to do that.

"I know the rules and the structure of the game has changed but the bottom line is there's still a price to be paid for the way you play."

Suzuki says try harder:

The local media has become so desperate to find a solution to the Flames' road woes, they even brought the subject up to environmentalist David Suzuki. The Canadian activist, whose cross-country road trip stopped in Calgary yesterday, was asked whether he had any insight into the Flames' troubles while they are away from home. The 67-year-old laughed, coughed and sputtered out a quick "No" before adding, "Just try harder, boys."

Suzuki stopped by the 'Dome to visit Robyn Regehr and Rhett Warrener, a pair of Flames he was introduced to last December by Andrew Ference. Both Warrener and Regehr have planned to go carbon neutral and did some photo and video with Suzuki as part of his tour.

Coach Jim Playfair still doesn't have any solutions either but understands why it's such a sticking point. He's not sure why the team is so successful at home in comparison but would love to figure it out before the playoffs.

"If it was just that easy, we'd take it on the road," he said."I don't know if it's the wives and the cooking or what it would be. It's become a real glaring issue with the difference."

Ice chips:

RW David Moss was one of seven Flames who skated at the Corral yesterday but isn't expected to return to the lineup until Monday. C Craig Conroy expects to be ready to return tonight after suffering an elbow injury Tuesday.


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