Los Angeles Kings say Coyotes incited fans to throw debris
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi blamed members of the Phoenix Coyotes for inciting fans at Jobing.com Arena to hurl debris at players and Coach Darryl Sutter on Tuesday after the Kings won the Western Conference title.
Goaltender Mike Smith threw his stick toward an official and center Martin Hanzal nearly made contact with a referee after Dustin Penner‘s overtime goal ended the series. Moments earlier, Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival had been helped off the ice after an unpenalized hit from Kings captain Dustin Brown. “I know they wear the same color jerseys, the refs as the Kings, but they didn’t have to play for them tonight,” defensman Keith Yandle said. Smith said that Brown should be “done forever” for the hit, which bruised Rozsival’s knee.
Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations, said Friday he’s looking into the Coyotes’ actions and comments, confirming an initial report on ESPN.com.
Lombardi, who has a law degree, backed his point by citing legal precedents involving European soccer crowds.
“What the courts said was that because the players attacked the officials, because the players showed such disrespect for the officials, that incited the crowd,” Lombardi told The Times on Friday. “They blamed the players. Because those players were conducting themselves like that, it incited the crowd.
“There’s a lot to that. If those guys are acting in that manner toward the officials, it’s a license for the crowd to do the same. What Smith did, he threw that stick at an official and then right after that, somebody is throwing a beer can at Sutter and our captain. That’s why Europe has that rule. You are responsible for that riot if you are going to show that lack of respect for officials.”
Kings winger Justin Williams said the Coyotes probably were fueled by adrenaline after their abrupt elimination.
“That was an emotional time. In the span of a second your season’s over and you have a camera in your face asking how you feel,” he said. “Sometimes you’re going to spout off something you don’t mean. Maybe they do still mean it. I don’t know.”
Planting a seed
The Kings’ run to the Stanley Cup Final has led many fans to rearrange their schedules, but there’s no changing Mother Nature’s calendar.
While Sutter led the Kings on Friday through their first full practice since they clinched the West title, his son-in-law was planting wheat, canola, oats and barley on the 3,000-acre family farm near Viking, Canada. “That’s where I should have been yesterday,” Sutter said.
Instead he has been at the team’s El Segundo practice facility, preparing for Game 1 on Wednesday. The rest since clinching the West was welcome, he said.
“Quite honestly, there’s a handful that needed it just because the farther you go it’s more taxing on some guys in terms of injuries and recovery,” he said. “When you look at it from the body standpoint, machine standpoint, [Friday] is the toughest day for getting it going again and then you can get back into your proper practice habits and reinforcing stuff.”
Simon says practice
Winger Simon Gagne was one of several players on a fifth line Friday, his first practice with the team since he suffered a concussion on Dec. 26. However, it’s highly unlikely he will return during the Final.
“We’re still playing, so he got an opportunity to practice with us,” Sutter said. “You need lots of live ammo. Someone asked me a week or so ago, and there was no chance then because he hadn’t even skated with the team.”
Gagne, happy to be back with “the boys,” said he has kept Sutter apprised of his progress.
“For myself and even for him, it’s just putting myself ready in case something happened,” Gagne said. “You never know what could happen. Right now what I could do is just skating hard in practice and working hard, and that’s what I’m going to do.”