Murray says Kings accept Stoll suspension but think San Jose's Demers should have been punished too
Thursday's on-ice hostilities continued off the ice Friday, after Kings center Jarret Stoll was suspended one game for delivering what the NHL ruled was a check from behind on San Jose’s Ian White in the first period of the Sharks’ 3-2 series-opening overtime victory.
Kings Coach Terry Murray said the team would “accept the decision made by the league and get through the next game,” but then condemned the league for not punishing Sharks defenseman Jason Demers for a nasty, third-period hit on Ryan Smyth that should have been a minor charging penalty at least because Demers launched himself into the air to take Smyth down.
Neither play drew a penalty from referees Greg Kimmerly and Brad Watson. White suffered a cut above his lip and was wobbling as he left the ice and did not return to the game. Nor did he practice Friday. Sharks Coach Todd McLellan, asked about White’s prospects of playing Saturday in Game 2 at HP Pavilion was doubtful. “At this present time I’d say no,” he said after his team’s practice.
Murray, usually stoic in public, became loud and emotional in discussing the Demers hit.
“I want to say this: If Jarret Stoll gets suspended for that hit, Demers is five times more severe a hit on Ryan Smyth than what Jarret Stoll’s hit is on White,” Murray said after the Kings practiced at the Sharks’ practice facility.
“He meets every criteria that you can read about from league memorandums, every coach, every player, every management [figure] every owner knows about it. If you travel distance and you launch yourself two to three feet off the ice and throw an elbow at a person’s head, that is a suspension. Big-time suspension.
“I was behind the bench when Philadelphia played in Ottawa and Steve Downie got suspended for 25 games. There is no difference in the intent of that hit.”
Murray was referring to a 20-game suspension imposed against Downie in 2007 for a hit to the head of Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond in a preseason game.
Murray was then asked if he thought the league acted as it did because White was injured.
“I don’t know what Colin Campbell [the NHL's chief disciplinarian] was thinking. I don’t know what other people think,” Murray said. “They base their decision on what they’re viewing, what the circumstances are, who the people are. All I know is that other hit is five times more severe, more intent, traveling distance, launching yourself two to three feet off the ice and a blow to the head. That is a major, longtime suspension.”
Stoll said he was disappointed. “I don’t want to miss any games, regular-season or especially playoffs,” he said. “I’m really disappointed with the decision but I respect it.”
Stoll pleaded his case during a telephone hearing with Campbell and other league executives. “I just explained what I was thinking and what I did and the play,” Stoll said. “I was honest with them. I told them what I thought.”
He said Campbell didn’t say much. “He acknowledged what I said was honest and what happened and that was pretty much it,” Stoll said.
With the Kings already minus injured center Anze Kopitar, missing the game “hurts for sure,” Stoll said. “Down, 1-0, that game was there for us in Game 1. We didn’t get it but guys have got to step up. It’s really tough to miss a playoff game for sure.”
John Zeiler, summoned from Manchester of the American Hockey League to center the fourth line, was expected to arrive in San Jose late Friday. Trevor Lewis will move up to center for Smyth and Justin Williams. Oscar Moller is likely to again be scratched.
"We felt like our best option was Trevor Lewis," assistant General Manager Ron Hextall said.
Translation: They don't think Brayden Schenn is ready to make the jump from junior hockey to the NHL and have an impact.
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-- Helene Elliott in San Jose
Photo: Shark defender Jason Demers during a regular-season game. Credit: Charles LeClaire / U.S. Presswire