- Last Updated: 9:24 AM, May 16, 2012
- Posted: 12:57 AM, May 16, 2012
I've got to tell you, I can’t even begin to imagine exactly what Martin Brodeur was thinking after the Devils’ 3-0 defeat in Game 1 of the Battle of the Hudson on Monday, in which the Rangers blocked more shots (26) than actually got through to Henrik Lundqvist (21), but clearly, he allowed frustration to get the best of him.
There’s no other way to explain how this 18-year NHL veteran, who never has hurt an opponent in his life, would suggest, as he did, that, “We might be able to hurt a few guys [by] hitting one-timers in the foot and their head or something.”
The foot or the head or something ... which translates into Brodeur putting his foot in his mouth or something.
But then, even worse, there were Devils yesterday who actually seemed willing to debate whether this different kind of headhunting might be a legitimate tactic to discourage shot-blocking, though none would suggest it ever could be or ever would be adopted by New Jersey’s team.
Still, the seed has been planted. When a pitcher who muses about brushing someone back nails a batter in the head, the presumption of innocence has been forfeited, the purpose having been advertised.
What now would be the response from the Rangers, forget for the moment from the NHL, if a shot off a Devil’s stick went awry, as in right into the face a Blueshirts defender?
Brad Richards was less than pleased to hear of Brodeur’s postgame remark, though the Rangers alternate captain told The Post he did not interpret it as either a threat or a promise.
“I don’t think it’s a very smart thing to say, that’s for sure,” Richards said. “But I don’t think we’ve sunk to a level of such disrespect in this game that one player would intentionally shoot the puck at another player’s head.
“I don’t think it’s anything we have to worry about, but I don’t understand why it even would have been brought up and said that way.”
Rangers general manager Glen Sather found it impossible to believe Brodeur hadn’t been facetious in the wake of the Game 1 defeat.
“It just must have been an off-color remark, it couldn’t have been serious,” Sather told The Post. “I don’t think one player would ever say it would be good strategy to hurt another player intentionally and mean it.”
Brett Favre begs to differ after his run-in with the bounty-hunting Saints.
It would be disconcerting enough for any player on any team to have introduced this issue into the Stanley Cup playoffs even as an aside or a matter of facetiousness, but it is astounding that this should have come out of the Devils’ locker room and from Brodeur, as Marty most certainly should know better.
For it was nine years ago that Scott Stevens suffered a concussion after being hit in the head by a Pavel Kubina slap shot in Game 3 of the 2003 second round against the Lightning. The injury and Stevens’ decision to return two days later without sitting out so much as a match combined to form the genesis of the end of the Devils’ captain’s career after just 38 games the following season due to post-concussion syndrome.
It was at 1:17 of the first period on April 28 that year in Tampa that Kubina sent a rising shot that caught Stevens on the left side of the head, knocking him down not so far from where Brodeur stood in his crease and knocking him out of the 4-3 Lightning victory that would be the only one for John Tortorella’s squad in the five-game series against the ultimate Stanley Cup champions.
No one in the arena believed the play to be anything other than an accident … no one, that is, other than Brodeur and Ken Daneyko, who after the game charged that Kubina had done it intentionally in order to knock Stevens out of the game or series. Daneyko was irate, Brodeur more miffed.
“I remember that,” said Richards, who was then in his third NHL season and his first playoffs. “We were aware of what they were saying, but we thought it was a kind of a heat-of-the-battle reaction that we never allowed to become part of the discussion inside our room.
“It was obviously so far from the truth. Who would do that to another player?”