HEAD ON A SWIVEL

Jason Strudwick
November 14 2011 11:29AM

"Protect yourself at all times." These are the instructions that boxers receive prior to a match. All hockey players need to start doing the same thing.

Last week Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers got buried behind his net by Tom Kuhnhacki of the Niagara IceDogs in a OHL game. Since then, Kuhnhacki has been suspended 20 games for his actions. He left his feet and caught Murphy square in the head. The suspension was warranted but I feel Murphy is also guilty.

He is guilty of not having good on ice awareness. Watch the video above and you can clearly see Murphy check over his right shoulder to see where the checking forward was coming from on that side but he does not look to his left at all. When he gets the puck he has absolutely no idea what is going on to his left. He is not ready to make a play with the puck or to protect himself from a checker. A quick glance to his left at any time and he would have been ready to absorb the hit or at least minimize its impact.

KEEP YA HEAD UP

Don't get me wrong, I am not blaming the victim here. I don't want Murphy to be sidelined for any amount of time due to this ugly hit. I am trying to prove a point and this was a perfect example. So many players both young and old don't have any on ice awareness. Watch a game at any level and you will see players put themselves into very vulnerable positions.

I always wanted to know where I was in relation to the boards. It can easily lead to an injury when you are either not far enough away from the boards or way to close. Learning to manage that distance is a skill that should be taught to very young players. A great example of this is Ryan Smyth. He manages that space as well as anyone is the league. When is the last time you saw Smyth really get hammered along the boards and injure himself?

Watching Gretzky carry the puck up the ice into the offensive zone was beautiful. He always seemed to know where his team mates were so he could make that beautiful pass for a nice tap in goal. Just as important to his success was knowing were the opposition players were so that he would not get hit hard in open ice. He knew where they were and avoided that contact. Many dman love step up and drop the hammer on players right at the blue line in the open ice. Think of Scott Stevens or Dion Phaneuf in todays NHL.

I am not suggesting that on ice awareness will end all concussions or injuries but I know it will reduce them. Another way to reduce them is with some old fashioned hockey. Players have to get back to defending themselves, especially dman. Getting your stick or elbow up just before a forward is going to run you on the forecheck will have a big impact on how he comes at you next time. Trust me, it will slow him down. Nobody wants to eat a stick or elbow pad every shift.

HEAL UP QUICK

 

I hope that Murphy is back playing very soon. He is a great player and team Canada needs his skill. I also hope that someone sits down with him to review his approach to retrieving pucks in his zone so that he can avoid these types of hits. Maybe a few clips of Nic Lidstrom would be a good place to start. Or another way to go would be to show Chris Pronger cross checking a forechecking player.

Either way he will be safer.

5cf6b487166aced0cd781e41bfef915e
Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#1 Laughing Pug
November 14 2011, 11:32AM
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HISTORIC FIST! i have a man crush.....

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#2 Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement
November 14 2011, 11:34AM
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Laughing Pug wrote:

HISTORIC FIST! i have a man crush.....

oh man, so historic! nice work LP

And Struddles.... felt like yearts waiting for u to write that fist article!

But i do agree, how can murphy go back to get that puck without looking once what was coming from that direction? now obviously their were numerous things wrong with the hit from Kuhnhacki and i do agree with the 20 games.

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#3 Wanye
November 14 2011, 11:37AM
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Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement wrote:

oh man, so historic! nice work LP

And Struddles.... felt like yearts waiting for u to write that fist article!

But i do agree, how can murphy go back to get that puck without looking once what was coming from that direction? now obviously their were numerous things wrong with the hit from Kuhnhacki and i do agree with the 20 games.

You did read his first article in the Gregor article introducing him right?

*walks away whistling*

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#4 Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement
November 14 2011, 11:46AM
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umm what? I read the article where gregor introduced him and gave us an idea about what he would write about, and then i waited 7 long days until this post...

*i'm so confused, and really wondering if i'm missing something...

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#5 Wanye
November 14 2011, 11:52AM
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After the heading HABS and HOTDOGS it's all Strudwick all of time time.

http://oilersnation.com/2011/11/7/a-new-writer

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#6 ItsTheBGB
November 14 2011, 11:54AM
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Yeah Wanye, you are not making sense. Go have a Penner.

Anyway, welcome to the nation Struddy!!!

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#7 Raine
November 14 2011, 12:01PM
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"Another way to reduce them is with some old fashioned hockey. Players have to get back to defending themselves, especially dman. Getting your stick or elbow up just before a forward is going to run you on the forecheck will have a big impact on how he comes at you next time. Trust me, it will slow him down. Nobody wants to eat a stick or elbow pad every shift."

---

Perfect example of this was Ryan Smyth's elbow on Kunitz earlier this year. However, he was ejected from the game. They need to allow players to protect themselves.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbbkGSVXPh4

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#8 Souby
November 14 2011, 12:04PM
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Thanks Jason. It is good to hear an opinion from someone who not only played, but played at the highest level. The results of this illegal hit are not good to say the least and the suspension is definitely justified, but you made a great point about Murphy not paying attention to his surrounding and how it possibly contributed to the extent of his injury.

I have noticed the last number of years where you see a guy come around his net with his head down or a guy admires his pass or a guy turns his back to a guy along the boards to protect the puck. In most cases, there is a collision, the player(s) gets a bit shaken up but generally everyone is okay. The problem is, in cases like Murphy's, serious injuries occur. I know the game is fast, but as your title says, you need to keep your head on a swivel.

I agree with the NHL taking a hard-line stance on head shots, but I feel that the players need to be doing more to protect themselves from these situations. With the high speed of the game, that is easier said than done, but nonetheless, the players can't always rely on the league to protect them.....just my 2 cents.

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#9 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
November 14 2011, 12:07PM
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Very good first article and I agree 100%.

I think the same is true for Ryan Miller the other night. Sure he isn't suppose to be hit, but if a guy is coming at you full speed shouldn't you anticipate some sort of contact?

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#10 Slick
November 14 2011, 12:09PM
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Great read! Good lesson that needs to be learned by all young players.

Completely agree with the old time hockey point, protecting yourself using an elbow or your stick may get you two minutes in the sin bin but it will also have an impact on how guys come at you next time around.

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#11 HORDY hears a who
November 14 2011, 12:11PM
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Well written Mr.Strudwick

You obviously attended all of Mrs.Filewych's English30 class back in archbishop macdonald. She's proud of you

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#12 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 14 2011, 12:19PM
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And so The Argonaut deploys!!

Nice first article Struds!

The good thing about this case is it is so egregious that everyone has heard about it/seen it that it is natural for soliciting comment.

The bad thing about this case is it is damn dirty regardless of whether Murphy is looking both ways (and I totally agree he is responsible for doing that and better learn quick). Kuhnhacki left his feet, full speed elbow to the head. Dirty, dirty, dirty.

More interesting would be if Kuhnhacki hit him square and clean and still knocked him out (which there is a good chance he would have). In that case, the situation isn't nearly as muddy. It would all be on Murphy and would have made a stronger case for defensive mindedness on the ice even during a time of crackdown by officials.

also, it looks like there was a penalty on the play. I'm guessing it was because the goalie touched the puck outside the marked-off area... why wasn't the play whistled down when Murphy touched the puck?? Also, doesn't that make Kuhnhacki's hit look even dumber... he just wasted a PP opportunity!

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#13 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 14 2011, 12:20PM
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Also... Tu-Pac... Please... you clearly missed a much better option, "watch your step kid...":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tr698Sl50mE

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#14 Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"
November 14 2011, 12:20PM
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So Mr. Strudwick please answer a question I have had floating around in my head since Crosby went on LTIR. Are a lot of the injury's we see related to the hard protective "Armour" you guys wear as compared to 25 years ago or is this more a result of bigger stronger faster? I know both play in to the injury thing. Is on Ice awareness taught as a protective strategy by all coaches or is it hit and miss?(no pun intended) PS Thanks for your years an an Oiler I look forward to some jewels of wisdom and insight!

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#15 RexLibris
November 14 2011, 12:22PM
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Good read, Jason, thanks.

I agree that most collisions like this are a combination of culpibility (score points for alliteration!). I also think that hockey-sense and vision are what can mean the difference between a great junior/minor league career and a good-to-great NHL career. It seems like if you can find someone who can think the game, it will factor into a greater impact on their career potential than sheer talent. Guys with marginal talent and a good hockey IQ usually last longer than guys with more talent and less vision. If only because they are less likely to get caught by a hit and become injured.

Maybe it was a simple oversight on Murphy's part and he does have better sense than that (although I'm sure someone will say that that sense has been first knocked out and then knocked in to him), but I really hope he can recover and put these kinds of injuries behind him for good. Cerebral injuries are the one kind that can't be fixed with titanium replacements or arthroscopic surgery.

Maybe we should just have all hockey players do like Sean Avery and remove their ring, wristwatch and grey matter before suiting up and going on to the ice.

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#16 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
November 14 2011, 12:22PM
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Much like it's been since i started watching the game in the mid 70's, this dog eat dog aspect of the game still survives. Don't think it has much at all to do with the instigator rule. No matter the rules, there's always been room on the team for someone who's prepared to do more for his team to get those 2 points than his opponent.

Good news or bad, it still sells the game. Without that element of danger, incidents like Peter Morris(WHA),Boyd Devereau,Ryan Murphy type of hits, the game loses some of its lustre. The appetite for unbridled violence sells tickets as well. There has to be room for that, it must really suck to be him right now element.

Murphy has to take his share of the blame in this colision for even allowing himself to be this vulnerable. To continually take the reponsibilty off the shoulders of the victim like this will turn this great game into nothing more than pond hockey.

Momma don't let your babies grow up to be bottom six forwards.

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#17 Mike
November 14 2011, 12:28PM
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When's the last time Smytty really got creamed along the boards?

March 1, 2008.

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#18 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 14 2011, 12:33PM
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@RexLibris

Maybe we should just have all hockey players do like Sean Avery and remove their ring, wristwatch and grey matter before suiting up and going on to the ice.

why not just remove players like Avery?

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#19 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 14 2011, 12:42PM
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TERA-GY2K1o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvE82q4yKEM

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=380418

any thoughts?

[edit] watch Lucic's post game interviews:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFd_5Pu4CmY

Apparently Sutton's reaction had an impact on his 5 games... you think this cocksure swagger and talking about how the "crowd got into it" and how the Sabres didn't defend their goalie will have the same effect?

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#20 ubermiguel
November 14 2011, 12:53PM
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Welcome Struds.

I feel terrible for Ryan Murphy, poor kid, what a cheap shot, but yeah, you have to know where your opponents are.

Gretzky had the rare talent of really knowing where everyone on the ice was at any one time (and even being able to recall the info for important plays years later). From what I've read his mind worked like a chess grandmaster when it came to position and strategy. We can't expect everyone to be up to Gretzky's level, but a least know where your forechecking forwards are.

It reminds me of defensive driving, I can't avoid the idiots on the road if I'm not alert and aware at all times.

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#21 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
November 14 2011, 12:54PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TERA-GY2K1o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvE82q4yKEM

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=380418

any thoughts?

[edit] watch Lucic's post game interviews:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFd_5Pu4CmY

Apparently Sutton's reaction had an impact on his 5 games... you think this cocksure swagger and talking about how the "crowd got into it" and how the Sabres didn't defend their goalie will have the same effect?

Lol, Ryan Miller sure seems passionate there. Maybe after a couple weeks rest Miller will return to his former self.

He should probably say thank you to Milan Lucic for helping his game get back to where it was. Maybe something like this could be in order for Khabibulin, no?

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#22 Hemmertime
November 14 2011, 12:56PM
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Good read. Love the bio "Strudwick was once traded for Gino Odjick. If that doesn't scare you, his karaoke will. " Almost missed it first look through.

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#23 FastOil
November 14 2011, 01:03PM
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Hi Jason, nice start here.

I wonder what your opinion is on deterrence? There is a wide gap in opinion among fans. You have been there, does having Ben Eager or whoever on the team make other players more safe? Or do players have to learn to be mean if they aren't and protect themsleves?

Do you feel it's better to have role players that are tough, or more skillful players in the bottom 6?

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#24 Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement
November 14 2011, 01:05PM
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Wanye wrote:

After the heading HABS and HOTDOGS it's all Strudwick all of time time.

http://oilersnation.com/2011/11/7/a-new-writer

Ah yes now i get it! me slow, it monday.

I guess what i meant was an article with him posted as the author, so i could fist it... which i didnt, but LP did.

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#25 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 14 2011, 01:08PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Lol, Ryan Miller sure seems passionate there. Maybe after a couple weeks rest Miller will return to his former self.

He should probably say thank you to Milan Lucic for helping his game get back to where it was. Maybe something like this could be in order for Khabibulin, no?

you never cease to amaze me. If anyone else suggested a concussion for Khabbie I'd be screaming bloody murder... but from you... i just chuckle and move on. thanks for the laughs!

BTW are you back to full-strength rebuild now, or does the contact high of winning still have you invested in this year's hockey?

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#26 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 14 2011, 01:11PM
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Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement wrote:

Ah yes now i get it! me slow, it monday.

I guess what i meant was an article with him posted as the author, so i could fist it... which i didnt, but LP did.

hey... I didn't catch that either. I thought that was still gregor the whole way through that article...

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#27 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
November 14 2011, 01:28PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

Thanks for cutting me some slack there Romulus, i never take myself serious unless i'm getting paid.

Like it or not a top 5 pick is in our longterm best interests agian this season. If it goes south i won't be disappointed. I've always been of the mindset that if it isn't a top 5 pick, it isn't worth ship to the Oilers right now. Every effort should be made to move up. With 89,83,6,24,40,23,58 all available if the Oilers find a dance/trading partner, they should be able to get something done. A one or two step process,the Oilers need to beg borrow or plunder that top 5 opportunity....but that's just me, i want the scorched earth rebuild.

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#28 nofool6110
November 14 2011, 01:29PM
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Good read, Struds!!

Felt horrible for Murray...

This and the death in Edmonton... RIP Kyle ...

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#29 baggedmilk
November 14 2011, 01:36PM
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Man! That was an amazing hit.

Keep your head up, son.

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#30 RexLibris
November 14 2011, 01:42PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Thanks for cutting me some slack there Romulus, i never take myself serious unless i'm getting paid.

Like it or not a top 5 pick is in our longterm best interests agian this season. If it goes south i won't be disappointed. I've always been of the mindset that if it isn't a top 5 pick, it isn't worth ship to the Oilers right now. Every effort should be made to move up. With 89,83,6,24,40,23,58 all available if the Oilers find a dance/trading partner, they should be able to get something done. A one or two step process,the Oilers need to beg borrow or plunder that top 5 opportunity....but that's just me, i want the scorched earth rebuild.

I agree.

My concern was that we'd put the management into a position of false confidence and end up doing a half-arsed job of this thing. I don't want us following the Avs and getting some nice pieces but not seeing it through. They were foolish to trade Stewart and idiots to trade their picks this year for Varlamov in the long-run. Maybe the playoff revenue keeps the team afloat financially so fine, but to build a championship team it was the wrong move.

I want that top 5 pick this year (and while I'm at it, some way of getting into the playoffs AND drafting MacKinnon next year) to add to the pile. *goes back to dreaming of Hall-Hopkins-Eberle and Paajarvi-Pitlick-Yakupov*

Oh, and while I'm making out my list to Santa I'd also like Calgary to finish 9th in the West and have Feaster talking about how much higher they finished than the Oilers and start selling "Next Year!" to the fanbase.

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#31 Toro
November 14 2011, 01:43PM
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Love the 2pac song Struds has got some style

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#32 Toro
November 14 2011, 01:43PM
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Love the 2pac song Struds has got some style

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#33 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
November 14 2011, 01:51PM
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Token trade Gagner or Horcoff entry. Every thread needs one.

Jason, who goes first?

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#34 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 14 2011, 02:03PM
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Next up, is Connor McJesus. wrote:

Token trade Gagner or Horcoff entry. Every thread needs one.

Jason, who goes first?

You're going to make me pull out "Gagner's Law" again...

BTW: nice to see you back to full-strength rebuild! It just didn't feel right having you post positive things the last couple of weeks.

Staying off topic: LT suggests we are heavily interested in Reinhart. makes sense we need D and obviously get a good look at him. Not sure how high up the draft we need to go to get him or equivalent. but this year's draft looks deep... might be able to get a quality D as low of 7 or 8.

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#35 Archaeologuy
November 14 2011, 02:27PM
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Hey Jason, I have a question for you that maybe you can address in future articles.

I would like to know about "roles" in Pro hockey. We hear about role players all the time. Are there defined roles on teams? Does it vary from team to team? Are they important or not very? That kind of stuff.

From the outside looking in we use terms like "Top 6", Bottom 6", Shutdown D, etc. I just wanted to know if that's something we project on players and teams or if there's actually something to it.

Thanks.

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#36 spOILer
November 14 2011, 02:33PM
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Get your stick or elbow up?

Like Ryan Smyth did earlier this season on a league-reviewed play for head shots?

Doesn't seem like that is an acceptable strategy any more.

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#37 Wanye
November 14 2011, 02:37PM
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Toro wrote:

Love the 2pac song Struds has got some style

I put that in the video. I don't think old timers like 34 have the game to know who a new rapper like Tupac is.

OH I WENT THERE

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#38 Dan the Man
November 14 2011, 02:44PM
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How do coaches feel towards the player when he takes a penalty for elbowing or high sticking while defending himself?

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#39 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 14 2011, 02:44PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Hey Jason, I have a question for you that maybe you can address in future articles.

I would like to know about "roles" in Pro hockey. We hear about role players all the time. Are there defined roles on teams? Does it vary from team to team? Are they important or not very? That kind of stuff.

From the outside looking in we use terms like "Top 6", Bottom 6", Shutdown D, etc. I just wanted to know if that's something we project on players and teams or if there's actually something to it.

Thanks.

are you sure you're not just baiting Captain?

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#40 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 14 2011, 02:47PM
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spOILer wrote:

Get your stick or elbow up?

Like Ryan Smyth did earlier this season on a league-reviewed play for head shots?

Doesn't seem like that is an acceptable strategy any more.

how about double over... make them fly over you like when you push your buddy over your other friend crouching behind him...

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#41 Archaeologuy
November 14 2011, 02:51PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

Who better to answer the question?*

*What? Me baiting? I would never...

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#42 Archaeologuy
November 14 2011, 02:52PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

how about double over... make them fly over you like when you push your buddy over your other friend crouching behind him...

SWEEP THE LEG!!

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#43 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 14 2011, 03:19PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Who better to answer the question?*

*What? Me baiting? I would never...

I just wonder if anyone* actually doubts the answer.

*other than the good Captain, of course

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#44 Romulus' Apotheosis
November 14 2011, 03:29PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TERA-GY2K1o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvE82q4yKEM

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=380418

any thoughts?

[edit] watch Lucic's post game interviews:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFd_5Pu4CmY

Apparently Sutton's reaction had an impact on his 5 games... you think this cocksure swagger and talking about how the "crowd got into it" and how the Sabres didn't defend their goalie will have the same effect?

here we go: responding to self...

"well I was standing on the corner talking to my self, I said self you rhyme like no one else":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMfmnYAPFuE

anyway... looks like the Lucic deal is done, no suspension:

http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=601357&navid=DL|NHL|home

can't wait to see Miller's reaction. I wonder if he'll get anything for swearing and/or trying to take that slash at Lucic. That would be amazing irony!

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#45 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
November 14 2011, 03:38PM
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@Romulus' Apotheosis

Another victory for violence!

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#46 ubermiguel
November 14 2011, 03:38PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

SWEEP THE LEG!!

Do you have a problem with that? No mercy.

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#47 RexLibris
November 14 2011, 03:52PM
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If we draft Reinhart the Flames will cry. They are starting a new Sutterite colony with Max, and then they want Griffin and are likely to do poorly enough to draft Sam next year. Ahh, Calgary: where Nepotism isn't a four-letter word.....wait, that sounded better in my head.

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#48 The poster formerly known as Koolaid drinker #33
November 14 2011, 03:52PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

Do you have a problem with that? No mercy.

Still can't believe that skinny kid won. Illegal kick to the head to win it. I can't believe the judges missed that. Rigged!!

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#49 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
November 14 2011, 04:04PM
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Newcomers must be fluent in 3 different languages before joining Oilersnation.com

1) English 2) Sarcasm 3) Masked profanity.

Please conform at your earliest convenience.

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#50 Wanyes bastard child
November 14 2011, 04:21PM
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Pfft, like your qualified to comment on anything regarding hockey...

To quote my pops,

"OH I WENT THERE"

:P

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