FORT WAYNE – Brett Smith is probably going to miss his third straight game tonight with a concussion because of a clip by Bloomingtons Ryan Palmer. Chris Auger will likely sit for the 10th time in 14 games since being concussed by an elbow from Evansvilles 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 hasnt always happened.
The way the game is, you cant police yourself anymore, Komets defenseman Brent Henley said. You end up getting suspended. Its 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 wont 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 didnt want to lose a power play they didnt 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. Theres 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 Philadelphias Broad Street Bullies days, the way it worked was if you hit Bobby Clarke, youre 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 OReilly or John Wensink were going to step in. Thats just a retribution type of thing and the retaliation isnt there like it used to be.
Nowadays, (Sidney) Crosby gets knocked out and theres some pushing and shoving, maybe a fight. Its not like it was in the old days when the best players were left alone because you knew youd have to step up against the other teams 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, dont 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.