The fact that Canucks coach Rick Tocchet chose to scratch Andrei Kuzmenko not once, but twice with his team in a battle against their own fatigue, sent a great, big message.
At the tail end of the Tocchet post-game scrum following Saturday’s 4-3 loss in San Jose, there was a question asked by a local reporter that wasn’t shared on the Canucks’ social media channels.
San Jose Hockey Now’s Nikita Sokolov tried to ask Tocchet about Kuzmenko being scratched for the second game in a row and whether he felt the winger had responded how he wanted. But the head coach didn’t want to get into it.
“We’ll deal with that later. I’m focused on the game. We’ll talk about that later. Thanks,” Tocchet responded tersely.
It’s a sensitive point for the coach. Fair enough. A week ago, he made it clear, he felt that Kuzmenko, who signed a two-year, $11-million deal late last season, hadn’t been working hard enough.
Kuzmenko worked out hard this summer. He came into camp in the best shape of his life.
But he’s only got three goals. And in the coach’s eyes, the forward hasn’t been playing with the same spark.
There’s no doubt the Canucks need Kuzmenko to get back to what he was. His centreman, Elias Pettersson, surely would like it.
They were such a dynamic duo last season.
It’s remarkable that the Canucks are the highest scoring team in the league and Kuzmenko has been only a minor factor on the score sheet.
Good pace but watch for the Kings
Even with the loss Saturday, the Canucks remain in a great spot.
Still, watch out for those Kings. The chatter is focused on the defending champions Vegas Golden Nights, but the Los Angeles Kings are coming up fast.
Would Marty McSorely have been only fined in today’s NHL?
You had to laugh when news landed that Jacob Trouba, who hit Trent Frederic over the head with his stick — as dangerous a thing you can do intentionally in hockey — was only going to be fined.
Unlike Donald Brashear back in 2000, Frederic didn’t get knocked out by the blow.
But there’s not much else separating what Trouba did Saturday and what McSorely did two decades ago.
Both were acts of outrageous, completely unnecessary violence.
McSorely was quickly and swiftly banned from the NHL, never to return. (Though his ban was technically called off after a year.) And that was a league that still placed high value on pugilism and allowed bruising, low-skill defenders to stifle the efforts of its most skilled talents
But in this bizarre era of the NHL, where the game is so much faster, a game that values skill and positive play, it’s much less heavy on violent acts.
If Frederic had been knocked out by the swing of the stick, would the Department of Player Safety have come down harder? Is that’s really where things are now: Only punishing in case of injury? Bad acts don’t matter if no one gets hurt?
It must be noted the fact that the McSorely attack was so shocking, and Brashear crashing limply to the ice so horrifying, it drew eyes from everywhere. The torrent of media coverage was quite possibly the most intense its ever been.
As many have pointed out, we shouldn’t be surprised how little the NHL wants to move on bad behaviour after they put the guy who founded a clothing line called Violent Gentlemen in charge of supplementary discipline.
Recommended from Editorial
Sharks 4, Canucks 3: Rick Tocchet frustrated in loss to tepid San Jose
No flowers for Marc-Andre Fleury: Once again, the NHL trips over its own stick
Former Canuck Corey Hirsch joins Hockey Canada board ‘to create a better space for our youth’
Bookmark our website and support our journalism: Don’t miss the news you need to know — add VancouverSun.com and TheProvince.com to your bookmarks and sign up for our newsletters here.
You can also support our journalism by becoming a digital subscriber: For just $14 a month, you can get unlimited, ad-lite access to The Vancouver Sun, The Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites. Support us by subscribing today: The Vancouver Sun | The Province.