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Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Fort Wayne’s Bobby Chaumont is hit from behind by Bloomington’s Omar Pacha.

K’s let refs do policing

On-ice retribution risks suspension

– Brett Smith is probably going to miss his third straight game tonight with a concussion because of a clip by Bloomington’s Ryan Palmer. Chris Auger will likely sit for the 10th time in 14 games since being concussed by an elbow from Evansville’s Karl Linden.

Those incidents resulted in only one CHL suspension, for one game, for Palmer.

While the fans have clamored for players to take matters into their own hands – Lincoln Kaleigh Schrock and Jamie Milam have been run headfirst into the boards recently – it hasn’t always happened.

“The way the game is, you can’t police yourself anymore,” Komets defenseman Brent Henley said. “You end up getting suspended. It’s up to the league and the referees to control that. If we get a chance to hit a guy clean, you hit them clean. Anything else is pretty much out of (our) control these days. They won’t suspend a guy for running a guy in the head, but they will suspend a guy for instigating. You get the same penalty for knocking a guy out for three weeks than you do for instigating a fight. It speaks for itself.”

Smith leads the Komets with 14 goals and 42 points in 33 games. He was in a vulnerable position, low to the ice, when Palmer took four strides and hit him.

It was a case in which Fort Wayne might have retaliated except: Smith got up and went after Palmer, leaving his teammates unsure if he was actually hurt; and the Komets trailed by a goal with five seconds remaining, so they didn’t want to lose a power play they didn’t end up getting.

However, coach Al Sims said: “Players have got long memories. We know the next time we play Bloomington (on Feb. 12), Palmer is going to have to keep his head up, just like our guys are going to have to keep their heads up. There’s definitely a rivalry there now and we just have to see how it all plays out.”

That opposing players are taking liberties with stars is just a sign of the times.

“The policing, the way it was in Philadelphia’s ‘Broad Street Bullies’ days, the way it worked was if you hit Bobby Clarke, you’re going to fight somebody,” Sims said of the Flyers who won two Stanley Cups in the 1970s.

Sims played for the Boston Bruins then.

“If somebody took out (our) Phil Esposito, they were going to fight somebody,” Sims said. “Terry O’Reilly or John Wensink were going to step in. That’s just a retribution type of thing and the retaliation isn’t there like it used to be.

“Nowadays, (Sidney) Crosby gets knocked out and there’s some pushing and shoving, maybe a fight. It’s not like it was in the old days when the best players were left alone because you knew you’d have to step up against the other team’s toughest guy. Maybe those days have passed because the guy stepping up will end up getting worse than the person with the original sin.”

When the Komets play host to the Tulsa Oilers tonight and Saturday, don’t expect enforcers Henley, Schrock and David Starenky to be overly venomous. They want to protect their players, but not at the cost of suspensions.

“You look for an opportunity to finish guys hard and clean,” Henley said.