Nearly every year, a familiar theme has a tendency to work its way through the NHL season and become the story. A few years ago it was the success of inexpensive goaltenders. Many moons ago it was the influence of European players. Among the early leaders for Story of the Year in the 2013-14 campaign has been the constant talk about hits – what’s legal vs. what shouldn’t be legal in the current game of hockey.
Along those lines, former King Garry Galley (now an analyst with Hockey Night in Canada) turned more than a few heads in Los Angeles when he recently called out Dustin Brown in October. The veteran defenseman put LA’s captain in the same class of player as Matt Cooke, Raffi Torres and Patrick Kaleta, among others – a group he labeled the ‘Crazy Eights.’
Over the past few months those comments have continued to stir up reaction and responses from various players who know Brown well. Here on MayorsManor, Predators forward Rich Clune flipped the script and went after Galley hard, even calling for his job. Brenden Morrow, a man often compared to Brown earlier in his career, also shared thoughts with us here.
With the Stars in town tonight to face the Kings, now we turn to Dallas forward Ray Whitney. Through the years he’s given some outstanding interviews to MayorsManor, always speaking his mind on the hot topics of the moment. His perspective is grounded in experience too, having played in nearly 1,300 games for eight different teams.
Here’s what he had to say on a myriad of topics…
On whether Dustin Brown deserves to be included in Galley’s list of eight dirty players:
“I don’t know. I know he hits hard. I wouldn’t say he’s overly dirty. He finishes his checks. To be honest with you, I don’t go around looking to see who’s a dirty player. I don’t really put much thought or stock into it. If he hasn’t been suspended a whole lot, I suppose he’s not a dirty player. I think that pretty much sums it up.”
On if there’s a difference in the game now as opposed to ten years ago, given the attention on head shots:
“Sure. It’s faster for one, so when you’re getting hit in the head with a check or an elbow, it’s coming at you a lot faster than it used to. Thus, you’re getting knocked out. You saw Penner tonight. He got hit at high speed. It knocks you out, and he’s a big man. The speed and the weight of players nowadays is no different than in the NFL. It’s how big and strong they are and then you add force to that… That’s probably what’s causing more head injuries than the fighting. You saw a good fight tonight. They were safer doing that they are sometimes getting that full speed hit on the side of [their] head.”
On whether hits from other games or safety is talked about on off days or during practice:
“No. We don’t talk about it. You look at them. You just say it was dirty or it wasn’t. There’s an onus as well on the players to be ready to be hit too. Since they’ve opened the game up with the hooking and holding, clutching and grabbing, you’re free to go full speed on your forechecks. People have to be prepared…to get hit at high speeds. In the old days you could get in the way and interfere and slow people down so that the hit itself was coming at a much slower speed. You could protect each other a little bit more. Since they opened it up, it’s created some more skill, I guess, in the game, but it’s added to the injury aspect, being unable to get in front of a guy who’s about to ram your defense partner down. You’ve got to be able to get in front of him to slow him up and you’re not allowed to do that anymore. I think that’s probably as much of a factor as anything.”
On what wisdom he might be sharing this year with the young players about improving communication, especially considering the abundance of iPods in the dressing room:
“Not much. I mean, it’s just in every league now. People have their own music they want to listen to [with headphones] and the only thing is, at a certain time…you shut those all off and you all are in the locker room as one. That’s about the only time. The only thing I would say to them is, ‘Listen, you don’t need to listen to that all the way up to warm-up. Some guys might have some things to say before that. Part of preparing is preparing with your teammates that last ten minutes before warm-up.’ Aside from that, nothing. If you’re going to be an old guy who just harps on the way it should be or the way it was, then it’ll be a long year. You’ll be out of the league before you know it. You have to learn how to adapt and adjust to what the new age does.”
On what Tyler Seguin means to the team:
“He [is] a legitimate number-one centerman which we didn’t necessarily have last year. We had Jamie Benn playing center, who’s naturally a left-winger. He did a good job at it, but you get a natural centerman who plays at high speed and has a high skill level… That line’s been good for us and he’s been good for us. Not everyone else has been equally as good with him, but he’s certainly been as advertised.”
For more from Whitney or additional content related to Galley’s comments, see below.
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