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  Mon, Oct 14, 2002



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Wrestling really rings a bell
Saddledome encounter leaves Gauthier grappling with family mat memories

By JEAN LEFEBVRE -- Calgary Sun

  Warm feelings of nostalgia swept over Denis Gauthier yesterday when he entered the Saddledome and saw WWE employees scurrying about in preparation for an afternoon grappling show.

"Yeah, it's pretty cool," grinned the Flames blueliner. "I knew coming in this morning they'd be around and I was hoping to see a couple of people. It's good memories. I grew up in arenas and spent a lot of time being around wrestlers."

Gauthier's father Denis Sr. was a wrestler, his mother Joanne Rougeau is a former WWF promoter and his grandfather Jacques, great-uncle Johnny and uncles Jacques Jr., Raymond and Armand are part of Quebec's first family of the mat.

As part of their training, Gauthier's uncles regularly tossed their nephew around the ring. The Flames blueliner might have flashed back to those black and blue days Saturday night when Flyers behemoth Donald Brashear vigorously slammed his head into the turnbuckle on an icing play.

"I think that's a classic example of those new rules," said Gauthier, who was shaken by the blow but uninjured. "Any other year, Boogie (defensive partner Bob Boughner) is able to hold up for me and Brashear doesn't even get a sniff at me. But with the new obstruction rules, you're not allowed to hold up at all. When the guy's got a full head of steam, he's hard to hold back. A lot of situations like that could happen this season. Guys could get injured.

"If they're trying to change all these rules, now bring in the no-touch icing if you can't hold up for your partner. That will save a lot of injuries, I think.

"Being hit from behind like that ... I mean, they're trying to take away blows to the head and he smashed my head right into the boards. It was a classic case of him being frustrated because Boogie hit one of their guys (Simon Gagne) the shift before and he's trying to do a little retaliatory action. The referees have got to identify that. It was a case where he was trying to provoke something.

"The good thing," he smiled, "is we capitalized on his mistake and scored a goal on that powerplay. It makes you feel a little bit better about taking those hits."

LEO ON BLADES: The implication was obvious yesterday when a bag chock-full of soaked equipment was plopped down in front of Jordan Leopold's dressing room stall.

"I just went for a walk in the park," claimed the rookie defenceman, "and I walked around with my Halloween costume on.

"Obviously," he winked, "I'm a hockey player this year."

Pressed a little further, the concussed blueliner happily admitted he had been skating at the Father David Bauer Arena after more than a week off blades.

"A little spin," declared Leopold, who was injured by a thunderous Dan Cleary check in an Oct. 4 pre-season game in Edmonton. "A half an hour, it's all the ice we had.

"It felt good to do something dynamic," chirped Leopold, whose recent activity had been limited to pedal-pushing on a stationary bike, "I felt good out there and hopefully I can make the next step."

Leopold travelled with the club to Vancouver but will not be in uniform for tonight's game. The earliest he could play is Thursday when the Flames host the Bruins. From experience, Leopold knows not to press the issue.

"I had (a concussion) in university and it took me about the same amount of time," he noted.

"You can only go when you feel right. The last decision is going to be mine because I know how I feel, nobody else does. I can pass all the tests but I can still not feel right.

"Who knows how long it's going to take?" he shrugged.

"I'm just looking forward to actually getting back on the ice, which I did today. Hopefully, I can be back to practice one of these days, too."

More on the Rougeaus




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