Gauthier claims spear was incidental contact

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:06 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- Denis Gauthier calls them "brain farts."

The definition of a brain fart, if we are to understand the explanation of the controversial Philadelphia Flyers defenceman properly, is when he momentarily loses his sense of logic out on the ice and does something "dumb."

Like when he tried to drive diminutive Maple Leafs forward Kyle Wellwood through the boards and into the first row of the Wachovia Center stands three weeks ago with a vicious hit from behind.

Gauthier was slapped with a two-game suspension for picking on a kid who barely stands as high as the cross bar.

That was Brain Fart No. 1 of the month.

Brain Fart No. 2 occurred in Game 2 of this Eastern quarter-final against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night when he wallpapered rookie Thomas Vanek in the back to earn a game misconduct.

Vanek, like Wellwood, is hardly a goon who needed to be taught a lesson. His 72 penalty minutes during the regular season aren't exactly Bob Probert-type sin bin numbers.

"That was stupid," Gauthier admitted yesterday. "I deserved whatever I got for that."

After reviewing the evidence, it's difficult to overlook a track record like this.

But that's exactly what Denis Gauthier wants you to do.

Sitting in his cubicle at the Flyers practice facility yesterday, Gauthier was pleading his innocence to about 30 reporters concerning his most recent controversial incident, the apparent spearing of the Sabres' J.P. Dumont in Game 3 on Wednesday night.

Gauthier claims it was incidental contact. According to the replays, he wasn't even looking at Dumont when his stick nestled into the gut of the Sabres player, he argued.

And to those that doubt him, Gauthier insists this was not Brain Fart No. 3.

"He's a friend," said Gauthier, who has played golf with Dumont in Quebec during the off-season. "If I'm going to do that, I'm going to do that to someone I hate, not my friend.

"Listen, I'm not going to deny I've had some brain farts in my career. I did some hits that weren't so good, but it's not because I'm trying to go out there and kill somebody."

How reassuring.

Dumont crumpled to the ice upon contact and lay in a heap for six or seven minutes, drawing boos from the capacity throng at the Wachovia Center. The crowd reaction was so distasteful, public address announcer Lou Nolan asked them to stop.

Former Major League Baseball reliever Tug McGraw once said Philly fans were so harsh, they would go to the airport after a Phillies victory and boo successful landings. He may have been right.

Dumont, who returned in the third period, buys into Gauthier's claim that it was an accident. The Sabres forward was worried because Gauthier's stick hit him in the spot where he underwent an incision for a sports hernia earlier this year.

Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was far less forgiving, citing Gauthier's past record of illegal indiscretions. Having said that,Ruff insists the Sabres will not seek retribution.

That's not what Sabres fans back in Buffalo want to hear. They want Gauthier's blood spilled on to the HSBC Arena ice surface when the teams return to Buffalo for Game 5 on Sunday.

Thanks to Gauthier, Darcy Tucker no longer is public enemy No. 1 in western New York for the hit that sidelined Jochen Hecht several weeks ago.

That role belongs to Gauthier, one he feels is not deserved.

"I'm a different guy off the ice,"Gauthier said, obviously seeking the sympathy vote. "I have two boys, four and one. I feed them. I change the youngest one's diapers."

Back in the pre-season, Gauthier, then with the Phoenix Coyotes, crushed the Los Angeles' Kings Jeremy Roenick, leaving the veteran forward with a concussion. Kings motormouth Sean Avery responded by saying it was an act "typical of most French guys in our league with a visor on, running around and playing tough and not backing anything up."

Your response, Mr. Brain Fart?

"It's not like I look for s--- to happen,"Gauthier said. "It follows me around and knocks on my door."

Gauthier's uncles are the Fabulous Rougeau Brothers of WWE fame. They were known for stirring things up.

Looks like their nephew is a chip off the ol' block.


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