Not much went the Canucks’ way Sunday night in San Jose. The Sharks scored early and often, the powerplay went 0-for-7 (hitting a whopping 5 posts in the process), and somehow, Antti Niemi only allowed one goal (which is usually a clue that the luck is favouring San Jose, because Niemi’s not very good).
But it turns out that Vancouver did catch at least one break last night.
It happened just prior to puck drop, when Alex Burrows and Logan Couture got into it at the faceoff dot. Couture gave Burrows a little push to the helmet, which led to Burrows giving Couture a little push to the chest. This summoned Ryane Clowe, who stepped in to defend Couture, which summoned Jannik Hansen to defend Burrows.
Now, Hansen isn’t exactly the most imposing of figures, but that doesn’t mean he can’t intimidate. The trick, as Will Smith once taught Ashley Banks, is to make yourself seem absolutely insane. And how better to do that than crosschecking the ref?
See, you’re not allowed to do that. But here’s where the Canucks caught their one break: Hansen got away with it.
We mentioned this in last night’s I Watched This Game, but it’s worth a second look now that Hockey Webcaster has been kind enough to upload the overhead view. What in the heck was Hansen hoping to accomplish there? Was he attempting to give Ryane Clowe the business and just… missed? His aim can’t be that bad. I’d suggest maybe his visor fogged up or he was a little bleary-eyed from a long shift or something and simply mistook the ref for a shark, but the game hadn’t even started. His mind and his visor should have been clear.
Or maybe Hansen really was attempting to shove the official, maybe as a warning of what might happen if Couture was allowed to lightly push Burrows on the helmet again? That would seem a pretty gutsy thing to do. Mind you, anyone that follows this blog knows full well that Jannik Hansen don’t care. Granted, his rampant honey-badgerism normally manifests itself when he’s playing international hockey, where, in the past year, Hansen’s penchant for “violence” and “behaviour” has gotten him into all sorts of trouble. Perhaps, just before puck drop, Hansen had some sort of system malfunction and accidentally switched from domestic mode to international mode, where he’s a bug-eyed menace with no respect for the officials? You’ll recall that he was also once tossed from a game because officials could not calm him down.
Who knows? But whatever happened, Hansen crosschecked an official in the back on Sunday night and got away with it. It’s hockey’s version of shooting a man in broad daylight, like Frank Lucas in American Gangster.
Eye on Hockey was baffled enough by Hansen’s seeming immunity to reach out to the NHL for an explanation of how he could skate away unpenalized.
“I have seen no referee’s report referencing the incident,” NHL Vice President of Communications John Dellapina told the blog, “And in cases like that, Colin Campbell, Terry Gregson and the Hockey Ops guys leave it up to the discretion of the on-ice officials whether behavior crossed the line.”
In this case, Hansen’s crosscheck to an official was apparently not seen as crossing the line. Maybe it’s because they simply didn’t want to mess with someone who was crazy enough to crosscheck an official.
s/t to Puck Daddy.