One of the first things they teach young-uns when they are learning to play the sport of ice hockey is stick responsibility. When you have that piece of wood…or graphite…in your hands, it can make for a very dangerous weapon if not dealt with properly. Even if the potential injury caused is unintentional.
Last night during the Thrashers 4-3 win over Florida, I…along with so many of you…saw what can happen if this basic responsibility lesson is not adhered to by way of the nasty accident that happened after Ilya Kovalchuk’s goal. Obviously upset from being beaten by Kovy on the breakaway, defenseman Keith Ballard sought to take his frustration out on the goalpost with his stick.
It never made it there…instead it found goalkeeper Tomas Vokoun’s head.
Certainly, Ballard is not the first hockey play to attempt to sacrifice a stick on the altar of the goalpost after a goal was scored or game lost…chances are good that he won’t be that last either. But in his blind anger, he did far more damage to a teammate than the equipment. Unintentional, of course…but it’s still the product of a lack of governance over one’s passions. Something we’ve all been guilty of.
I was spending the game with the guys from The Blueland Chronicle last night in the front row of section 317, right above where the incident took place. The five of us were standing, cheering…even laughing somewhat due to the way Kovalchuk’s goal was scored…as you would expect. But when we saw Vokoun hit the ice…and then lay there motionless…we, like the rest of Philips Arena, grew eerily quiet.
It was a surreal moment…and to be honest with you, it was one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever witnessed in person at a sporting event. And that includes the Braves game in old Atlanta Fulton County Stadium back in the summer of 1993 when Fred McGriff’s was welcomed to Atlanta with a fire in the press box. I was also at the Falcon’s game a decade and a half ago when quarterback Jeff George and coach June Jones had that infamous scrap on the sideline.
Last night, however, was even more bizarre to me given the circumstance and the way it happened.
As for the Panthers’ goalie, he was carted off after several minutes on the ice and taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital with a severe ear laceration. Fortunately, a CAT scan revealed no further damage to the 33-year old Czech and he was able to re-join the team at the airport for the flight back to south Florida.
Johan Hedberg, the goalie on the opposite end of the ice, said after the game, “I just feel so sad for Vokoun and the other guy who did it…you don’t wish that on your worst enemy. I hope Tomas is going to be good”.
To be sure, the person who feels the worst about this is his teammate, Ballard…who needed a few minutes to gather himself in the locker room before he was able to continue. He finished with 20:21 TOI and was a –1…but I’m sure that and the loss to the Thrashers doesn’t come close to the regret he has to feel from the injury to his goalkeeper.
However, as I stated above, stick responsibility…and also management of one’s temper in heated situations…is a key element to success on the ice and off as well. It just took one second to lose one’s cool…and we saw the ugly result.
Thankfully, it wasn’t even more ugly than what it was.
Toys for Tots Campaign
The Atlanta Thrashers and Atlanta Hawks are once again teaming up with the United States Marine Corps to make Christmas a happy time for children in need. Fans that attend games are asked to help out in this worthy and charitable cause by bringing new and unwrapped gifts as they enter games. Those who do will be given vouchers good for a pair of tickets to upcoming games
Donation centers will be outside of Philips Arena before and during the five games in the month of December as well as other locations around town. For more information…simply click here.
As I indicated, last night I was honored to be able to watch the game from The Blueland Chronicle Perch, located in the first row of section 317. Mortimer Peacock, Big Shooter, Razor Catch Prey and their friend Juan Valdez made the experience a fantastic one for sure. French Catalogues was unable to attend, unfortunately.
Of course, as with anytime the Rawhide/TBC consortium gathers for an event, security and the local police department were given fair and advanced warning…seeing as “bizarre” things just seem to happen when we are together.
I’m not sayin’…I’m just sayin’….