April 24, 2012
Swede and Sour: Alfredsson sorry, Lundqvist should pay
By DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
|Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist argues with the referee on a call against the Senators during Game 6 of their NHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., April 23, 2012. (TONY CALDWELL/QMI Agency)
OTTAWA - When they finally did sleep, hockey fans in Sweden surely tossed and turned until their alarms went off Tuesday morning.
The night before they and stayed up late to watch their country’s rising young star, Jakob Silfverberg, make his anticipated NHL debut with the Senators. As an added bonus, they were also going to see the most exciting defenseman in the world, their very own Erik Karlsson, spin his magic against the Rangers.
But what should have been proud moments turned into an embarrassing wee hour for the worshipers of the blue flag with the gold cross, thanks to the antics of Daniel Alfredsson and Henrik Lundqvist, two of the best Swedes to ever play.
A sheepish Alfredsson tried to explain at Scotiabank Place Tuesday why he blew a gasket in the third period of a loss that saw his Senators go from the driver’s seat to the trunk in the opening-round playoff series. Something about the frustrations of the game and unwisely putting himself in position for a hit from ex-Leaf John Mitchell.
However, those in the back of the hallway scrum could barely hear Alfredsson, as poor planning had his interview coinciding with the game of soccer his teammates were holding with a cement wall. From what we did catch, it sounded like the apology that was warranted.
Yes, he should be sorry. Smashing a stick and stomping a water bottle is how you and I and many of his peers would vent. But Alfredsson is held to a much higher standard. He is a classy hero, both to those in Ottawa and his homeland. Kids of all ages consider him a role model. That includes Silfverberg, who was sitting to the left of Alfredsson during the tantrum. To Alfredsson’s right was Colin Greening, who had a look of shock on his face while his captain lost his mind.
“I saw the stick come down and it caught me a little bit by surprise,” admitted the big rookie. “I think the reality is, with Alfie, he had a camera on him the entire night. So obviously, I’m sure there’s times when you could have looked at other guys on our team, or on their team, that would have been frustrated.
“I know when the water came up, it kind of splashed on my face,” Greening added, chuckling. “I didn’t really know what happened. It doesn’t really too good on the television. The guys were kind of making fun of me this morning, saying how I looked like I was getting shot or something.”
As bad as Alfredsson behaved, Lundqvist was worse. The Rangers goalie had every right to lose his marbles on his crossbar, for the last-minute goal against him that closed the gap to one should never have counted — unless it’s suddenly within the rules to knock a ‘tender out of his crease and kick the puck into the net. But ultimately, his team won. Lundqvist should have shut his yap and smiled to the queries later on. Instead, he babbled about what a joke the officiating was, like that’s a scoop in these playoffs.
“Someone wants them back in the game, obviously,” said Lundqvist. “There’s no other explanation.”
Seriously? Never mind the ridiculous notion that the NHL would prefer Ottawa to continue on ahead of New York. What Lundqvist claimed, basically, is that the fix was in, the refs were cheating. And inhabitants of the Twitter world wanted Chris Neil suspended for suggesting he’ll exact retribution on Michael Del Zotto by catching the Rangers defenceman with his down? Clearly, he meant with a clean, hard hit, for the league has already decided that’s the way Neil plays the game.
And others are having their playing privileges put on hold because of checking opponents a little too hard or late or high?
This all reminds me of the old Saturday Night Live skit, where the newsman is giving a weather forecast and ignoring the story going on in Pearl Harbor.
“I’ll tell you about the weather,” says Phil Hartman. “IT’S RAINING BOMBS IN HAWAII!”
What’s worse for the game, a stick that slides up a guy’s arm and accidentally catches him in the face, or one of the NHL’s stars inferring that the league is trying to predetermine an outcome?
It won’t happen, of course, but Lundqvist should be suspended for those comments. That he can peel off a few bills from his wad to make things all better, then still play in Game 7, well, that’s a joke, too.
Here’s something that will happen though, I’d bet. Alfredsson will hold true to his word of never again having another public fit, and he’ll bounce back Thursday with his best game of the series, if not the season.
Alfredsson is man of great character and he’ll be determined to prove that once again.
If it’s his last NHL game, he’ll go out with a bang, not the smash of a stick, and make both Senators fans and his homeland proud.