Report: No discipline for Nathan Horton

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Report: No discipline for Nathan Horton

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

BEDFORD It appears Nathan Horton -- and the Boston Bruins -- dodged a bullet Thursday afternoon.

The St. Petersburg Times reported on Twitter that Bill Daly, the NHL's deputy commissioner, said there will be no punishment for either Horton or the Tampa Bay Lightning for end-of-the-game incidents after Game 6 in Tampa Wednesday night.

"Based on what I know now, I don't expect any action of any kind," Daly wrote in an e-mail to the Times Thursday.

Horton appeared to spray a Tampa Bay Lightning fan with a water bottle from the bench, and then toss the water bottle at the fan, as he stalked down the runway. The league has handed down suspensions during the playoffs in the past for water-bottle incidents with fans. Horton took a roughing penalty after engaging in a tussle with Nate Thompson at the end of regulation. That incident, and the end of the game, prompted fans to shower rally devices -- noisemakers that were handed out by the team prior to the game -- onto the ice as the players were attempting to get to the dressing room.
Versus cameras showed David Krejci getting bonked in the head area with at least a couple of the noise-making devices, and video footage compiled by Tampa Bay Lightning writer Mike Corcoran shows Horton losing his cool as he stepped off the ice. The footage is grainy and inconclusive as to exactly what happened, but it appears to show Horton spraying a hard-charging Tampa Bay fan with a water bottle, and then tossing the bottle into the stands at the excitable spectator. There was no further trouble, as security held back the fan and Horton went to the dressing room.
There is past history for NHL playoff discipline toward players or coaches in water-bottle incidents. Rangers coach John Tortorella was suspended during the 2009 playoffs for one game after spraying and then throwing a water bottle at a particularly crazed fan. It was two years ago, but in a nice piece of digging by Pro Hockey Talks Joe Yerdon, here is NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbells reasoning at the time for suspending Tortorella for a playoff game:While it is a difficult decision to suspend a coach at this point in a playoff series, it has been made clear to all of our players, coaches and other bench personnel that the National Hockey League cannot and will not tolerate any physical contact with fans. We do not take this action lightly.Wednesday's incident underscores how chaotic the atmosphere was on the St. Pete Times Forum ice at the end of the game. Handing hockey fans potential projectiles as they walk into a playoff atmosphere has proven ill-advised time and time again, but the Lighting once again stepped into a mess harboring an unsafe environment for the players on the ice.Horton got off the team plane at Hanscom Air Field along with the rest of his teammates on Thursday afternoon, but wasnt made available for comment.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

Haggerty: Bruins get chance to show good results weren't just short term

The mission for the Bruins on their four-game road swing through the West Coast is certainly to keep the momentum going, but it’s also to quell any talk that the positive results will be short-lived following the coaching change.

The Bruins won there first three games interim head coach Bruce Cassidy headed into the five-day “bye week”, and they’ll come out on the other side with a potentially dangerous road swing through California that will finish up in Dallas next weekend. 

The Black and Gold have gone into death spirals before on the Cali trip, so that’s always a danger when going coast-to-coast to face tough teams in the Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

There’s also the fact that NHL teams are 3-10-2 as of Saturday afternoon in the first game coming back from the five-day midseason vacation. That means the B’s are going to face a stiff uphill battle on Sunday night against the Pacific Division-leading Sharks. 

The challenge is going to be there for the Bruins to answer all of those challenges when they’ve shrunk away from such adversity most of the season. It gives the Bruins yet another chance to show that the three games aren’t merely a sugar-high after cages had been rattled and is instead something that Boston sustains over the season’s final two-plus months.

“Our thinking is to try to win every game. We know the standings. We know it’s pretty tight. We put ourselves in some of the games in tough situations. Now, we’ve got to climb up and fight for every point,” said Zdeno Chara. “It’s going to be very important that we do that and play that way until the end.

“We can look at the standings as much as we want. I think that we really have to focus on how we play, how we want to go into every game, and what we can do to get as many points as possible.”

The good news for the Bruins is that the teams chasing them in the standings really haven’t gained ground on them, and they enter Saturday still in a playoff spot. So, the mathematics don’t look as dire for Boston as they did going into their rest period, and now they should be energized, recharged and highly motivated headed into the final 24 games of the season.

There’s also the fact that the Bruins were playing exciting, aggressive and winning hockey due to some of the tweaks made by Cassidy after taking control of the team. He finally got some production from the third line after putting forwards Frank Vatrano, Ryan Spooner and Jimmy Hayes together, a combo he never truly gave a look because he didn’t trust them to do the job defensively. Cassidy immediately placed 21-year-old Peter Cehlarik into a top-six role with power-play time straight from the AHL. That’s something one almost never saw happen with rookies and inexperienced guys during Julien’s run.

The B’s defensemen corps scored four goals in the three wins and showed aggressive, timely risk-taking to produce offense when playing it safe was normally the call of the day under Julien. The forwards were avoiding the low-to-high passing to the point that so often resulted in perimeter shots from the Bruins in the offensive zone, and instead attacked the net down low with the forwards looking to put some anxiety into the opponent’s D-zone coverage.

It all worked and it all looked remarkably different from the way the Bruins played in the opening 55 games.

“It’s something we need to bottle up and not change our approach, not change what we’re doing, make sure we’re moving [during the bye] and not just sitting idle and getting rusty,” said David Backes last weekend headed into the bye. “Make sure that mentally, we can have those same sort of mindsets for every guy to be contributing. It’s something that doesn’t show up on the score sheet, but guys are recognized in here for doing those things and that’s winning culture. That’s what we’re building.”

The Bruins now get their chance to prove this is a permanent change to a winning culture rather than a short term, three-game adrenaline rush after watching their longtime coach get fired. It won’t be easy, but it shouldn’t be for the Black and Gold if they’re finally going to earn their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three seasons. 

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Saturday, Feb. 18: NHL more likely in Seattle than NBA?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while hoping that Purple Passion doesn’t try the same comeback as Zima.

*A Seattle investor says that an NHL team coming to that city is much more likely than a return by the NBA to the Pacific Northwestern city.

*Gare Joyce writes eloquently about the loneliness of a hockey scout, and how that world can sometimes come to a crashing halt.  

*Good piece from Arpon Basu giving the sights and sounds of Claude Julien’s second stint behind the bench with the Montreal Canadiens.

*The agent for Russian player Maxim Shalunov says there is a “10 percent chance” that he’s going to sign with the Chicago Blackhawks.

*Mike Babcock says not to expect any big trade deadline deals from the Toronto Maple Leafs as they push for a playoff spot.

*Henrik Zetterberg reflects on a difficult season with the Detroit Red Wings where it looks like things might finally come down to a crashing halt.

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/nhl/red-wings/2017/02/17/red-wings-zetterberg-reflects-tough-season/98064530/

*The Minnesota Wild have underrated depth on their team, and the Hockey News says it might just be their scariest attribute.

*For something completely different: as referenced above, it looks like that Zima drink of the 1990s is trying to make a comeback. I was in college when the Zima people were seemingly flooding campuses with advertising and samples back in the day.