Presumably, San Jose’s Ryane Clowe got a good night’s sleep and took some extra vitamins this morning, because his memory had a shocking improvement today. Last night, he feigned ignorance when reporters asked about the incident in which, from the bench, he knocked the puck away from Jarret Stoll (even though TV cameras caught him mouthing, “That was stupid,’’ after it took place). Today, Clowe told the San Jose Mercury News, “Obviously, as you can tell when I sat down on the bench, that was stupid, that was a dumb play. It probably should have been a two-minute penalty and I was lucky it didn’t cost the team. It was definitely a brain cramp at the time. Don’t think it’ll ever happen again.’’
Coach Todd McLellan concurred, and called it an “ill-advised play,’’ but the Mercury News also noted that “teammates joked about the illegal move — captain Joe Thornton called it `the play of the year’…’’ Yes, Joe, a real knee-slapper that was. The NHL did not issue any supplemental discipline to Clowe — and no in-game discipline either, since they didn’t see the incident — and once again the league fell short in offering a coherent explanation to its fans. After the Kings practiced today, there was no real anger on the part of the players or coaches. If anything, it was more disbelief. Willie Mitchell said he watched the incident online when he got home from the game.
MITCHELL: “There’s no doubt he knows it was a stupid play. You could read it on his mouth there, on the bench. I don’t know. It’s a play that definitely, on two levels, had a direct result on the outcome of the game. The first is, it should have been a penalty of some sort, and then stopping play. It’s a bit of a broken play. There was a backchecker to make it a 3-on-3, but it was a bit of an odd-man rush. I don’t know what he was thinking. To be honest with you, I have no idea what he was thinking on that. I’ve never thought of that. Sometimes there’s a skirmish in front of your bench, and you kind of want to grab a guy, but something that blatant, I don’t know. You could compare it to maybe someone running down the sidelines in football and someone sticking out a leg. That was a suspendible offense.
“There’s potential for injury. There’s potential for changing the outcome of the game is the No. 1 thing. Unfortunately, the referees didn’t see it. We accept that. That’s OK with us. It’s not the best outcome, because it would have been a two-man advantage, but I don’t make every play on the ice and no referee makes every play. That’s sports. It is a reviewable offense? I’m sure it is. I’m sure there will be some type of action, whether it’s suspendible or a fine or what. What’s done is done now, and we move on.’’
I pointed out to Mitchell that perhaps he could use his long stick to take a faceoff from the bench. Mitchell also talked about some of his odder experiences in hockey. He mentioned how, one time back in the American Hockey League, a player hid under the bleachers in order to sneak-attack a rival just off the ice. The top story, of course, is the one from 2007, when Mitchell played in Vancouver and teammate Jeff Cowan (a former King) scored a big goal.
MITCHELL: “He scored a goal, the place is going nuts and the next thing I know, there’s a bra flying out on the ice. So, I picked it up with my stick. I didn’t want to give it to the ref too quick, because I wanted to show it off for a little while, so I held it up on the top of my stick and skated around for a little bit and then gave it to the ref. [laughs] So that was pretty priceless.’’
Mitchell called it a size 38DD. In a previous telling of the story, it was a 36, so the legend is getting bustier. Getting back to Clowe, Darryl Sutter spoke with some admiration today about Clowe’s overall game, if not Clowe’s decision to become a part of the play from the bench…
SUTTER: “I bet he did that when he was a little boy. [laughs] I know him. … He’s become a good player. He was a boy who wanted to play in the NHL, and he had a lot of work to do. He was green. He had to improve his skating. He was sort of like Cliffy [Kyle Clifford]. There are things that you don’t teach that they’ve got. It’s sort of the same. But he paid his dues. What did he play, three years, in the American League? That’s the first thing I thought when we got to the shootout, because he’s a really good shootout guy. We stopped him and I thought, `OK, I like our odds a little bit better.’ But you can’t win a shootout nothing-nothing.’’