Reffing most foul

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:48 AM ET

DETROIT -- The Flames can't catch a break.

Oh, there have been broken bones and bruises, but few repercussions when it comes to other teams taking liberties with Calgary Flames players.

Brandon Prust had to head home from this road trip early with a fractured jaw after a head shot from St. Louis Blues goon Cam Janssen.

Whether or not the latest incident that has head coach Mike Keenan steaming has any lasting injury effect remains to be seen, but the low blow Dion Phaneuf took from Andrei Markov in Montreal Tuesday night was yet another example of referees seemingly ignoring major fouls when it comes to the Flames.

Keenan had a few choice words for the crew, led by Chris Rooney and Paul Devorski, after the 4-1 loss to the Habs.

So did associate coach Jim Playfair, who was on the ice post-game to discuss what they felt was an obvious call on Markov -- who was given a minor tripping penalty that was negated by a bench foul following the scrum as teammates came to Phaneuf's defence.

"That's what's frustrating," said Keenan. "They call a couple of lame penalties ... and then they miss a flagrant knee.

"A flagrant knee. I don't understand it."

Maybe Phaneuf's reputation as a merciless hitter precedes him. Perhaps it's the Flames organization's image that gives referees and even the league disciplinarians the notion this team can defend itself.

You've got Darryl Sutter as the general manager. Anyone old enough to remember his playing days knows he can mix it up when needed.

Keenan is the head coach, and his reputation is as nasty as any bench boss that ever worked in the league.

Your captain is Jarome Iginla, one of the nicest guys on the planet off the ice but a bull on it.

He's willing and able to drop the gloves when feeling slighted.

In the late goings of Tuesday's game at the Bell Centre, he did his best to encourage Canadiens defenceman Patrice Brisebois to engage him.

Robyn Regehr is one of the nastiest defenders of his corner.

And then, of course, there's Phaneuf.

Reputations like his don't come along often for a 23-year-old in his fourth season.

Well-earned for the crushing hits most people expect to see from him every night.

What no one should expect is Phaneuf to be treated differently because of it.

Taking a stick to the face from Martin Havlat last month in Chicago left him cut and bruised around his left eye.

Seeing Phaneuf's radar locked on him along the boards, Havlat got his composite up at the last second to soften the blow. It was almost comical the way his stick stuck in Phaneuf's helmet after the damage was done.

Phaneuf and his teammates weren't laughing.

How could the league not take notice of that?

Lunging for Phaneuf's legs at the last second, Markov's infraction wasn't as obvious, but could have been even more damaging in the dying minutes of a game that was already decided.

Had the refs called a major, Keenan might have forgotten those "lame" calls.

What the men in stripes need to remember is Phaneuf deserves to be treated like any other player when someone fouls him.

Regardless of how many times he pushes the limits of the rules himself.


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