By Joe Haggerty
BOSTON Daniel Paille is going to pay the price for his hit on Raymond Sawada, in the form of a four-game suspension handed down by the National Hockey League.Both Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli gamely said there is a case to be made that Pailles hit was more shoulder-to-shoulder than a blindside head shot, but give Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference and many of his teammates a lot of credit.Ference knows Paille feels badly about the hit, isnt a dirty player on the edge (as Matt Cooke clearly was last season), and will accept any penalty that's handed down but Ference also knows what its like to be on the receiving side when it comes to Rule 48 and dangerous blind sidelateral pressure hits.The Bruins defenseman is as clean a player as youll find in the NHL, and has always played the game the right way. It clearly burned Ference when the NHLs brightest star, Sidney Crosby, didnt come out strongly and decry the filthy hit that teammate Cooke landed on Savard last spring.Instead, only classy veteran Bill Guerin condemned Cookes villainous actions. Crosby fell silent on the kind of subject that needs his clout and backing.After Thursday's game, Ference wouldn't do the same when it came to Paille's hit on Sawada.
Its a bad hit, right?" said Ference. "You hear it from every player after they do it, they feel bad, and same thing, I talked to Danny Paille and he feels bad. You cant be a hypocrite about it, though. Ive thought about this a lot and had plenty of time to put things in perspective over the last year. Sidney Crosby has been very vocal about the head shots and blindside hits since he suffered one in the Winter Classic, but what did Crosby say after Cooke hit Savvy last year? Nothing.I thought a lot about that. You want to be a good teammate, but you shouldnt be a hypocrite about it.Good for Ference for speaking his mind, and talking about whats right rather than taking the easy way out by saying nothing at all on a very meaningful subject to the Bs players. Even NESN's Jack Edwards admitted after the game that the Paille hit was in violation of Rule 48 and that it was in no way clean in today's NHL.
On to the links: James Reimer fever is breaking out in Toronto, and the Star is all over it when theres not much else to cheer for in Leafs land. Count Evgeni Malkin among the many NHL players who seemed to feel bad for Phil Kessel after the All-Star fantasy draft. You really hope they dont change the format over Phil the Thrills hurt feelings. Bucky Gleason gives one last kick to the outgoing Buffalo Sabres ownership before a new, well-heeled regime takes over in the name of Terry Pegala. The New Jersey Devils escape last place in the Eastern Conference. I wonder if they answer the phones in Newark as Welcome to the Devils, no longer sitting in the East basement. Henrik Lundqvist going through a pretty bad lull for the slumping New York Rangers at a very inopportune time in the season, according to northjersey.com A decision is looming on Peter Forsberg, according to the Denver Posts Adrian Dater, but I must admit that Im not somebody waiting with baited breath for the announcement. Dwayne Roloson is helping turn things around for the Tampa Bay Lightning this year, and Pierre Lebrun correctly points out that Steve Yzerman is looking like a GM genius in his first season at the helm.