SUN Hockey Pool

King-Peca feud part of game

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:48 PM ET

Remember way back when Dion Phaneuf used to play for the Calgary Flames and he’d catch a guy crossing the blueline with his head down?

Remember how angry the opposition would be at the sight of their teammate crumpled on the ice while Phaneuf carried on with the play?

No matter how clean the hit was, somebody on the other side would immediately charge back at Phaneuf to defend their fallen mate.

Even though Phaneuf broke no rules and did nothing wrong, the opposition saw red and set out to do something about it.

That’s no different than the verbal dance Mike Peca and Ken King just completed.

Peca used his platform as a TSN analyst on Tuesday to question the grit of Flames blueliner Jay Bouwmeester, suggesting he was easy to play against and was prone to turnovers.

Not only was it fair comment, it was also seen as insightful given the fact the respected forward played the game against the former Panthers defenceman for years.

In response, King used his platform on FAN 960 to decree Peca’s “lowbrow” comments as being out of line, largely because Peca was a former peer.

“He needs to understand the difference between being a guest and being a journalist,” said the Flames president, clearly agitated one of his prized players was “humiliated” and “laughed at” on national TV.

“You fight with my family, you fight with me.”

While I don’t buy his suggestion a former player needs to curb his approach or opinion in any way, good on King for defending the quiet blueliner.

Peca did nothing wrong except be refreshingly candid in a forum that generally sees former players bite their tongue.

King did nothing wrong either. Like the player looking to knock Phaneuf’s head off, that’s what people in the hockey world do — they defend their teammates.

It’s just part of the game they play.

As a publisher of both papers in town, King knows better than just about anybody that journalistic criticism and observations are fair game and that shots can and will be taken at his players and organization regularly. (Heck, he just lived through a spring and summer of local discontent.)

He doesn’t have to like it, though.

And if he has an outlet — which the Flames have in their radio partner FAN 960 — to let his players know he’s got their backs, he should use it.

It’s good radio. It’s good business.

“I’m sticking up for our guys under any and all circumstances,” added King yesterday.

“We’re not going to let Jay Bouwmeester get talked about in that manner by a colleague without challenging it. It’s just not appropriate.”

Fair enough.

Both sides have said their piece, as did hundreds of Twitterers, including ESPN’s Mattthew Barnaby.

“It was (Peca’s) opinion and good for him for making one! I would have made one but I wasn’t allowed on the ice when the good players were on!!” wrote the retired agitator.

“Maybe King can defend me now!”

Bouwmeester fired back in the Sun Thursday with a few veiled shots at Peca. Who knows — maybe this will serve to light another fire under the club’s $6.6-million disappointment last season.

Either way, King spoke to Peca Thursday, putting the issue to rest.

“Him and I are the only two people who may not have further issue,” chuckled King.

“The misinterpretation was that he wasn’t entitled to his opinion. I just didn’t agree with it. Like those guys on the ice, they often go have a beer together.”

The dance is over. Until the next big hit.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/ericfrancis


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