Philip Larsen got knocked unconscious, the Canucks retailiated without knowing what happened, and they could have hurt their teammate even worse in the process.
The incident was horrific. We can all agree on that.
Tuesday night in New Jersey, Vancouver Canucks blueliner Philip Larsen skated behind his net to retrieve a puck. He had no idea Devils left winger Taylor Hall was pursuing the same puck. They collided heavily. Larsen bashed his head on the ice and was knocked out cold.
It was a scary scene, undoubtedly, one that understandably evoked a ton of emotion from Larsen's teammates. It was hardly a surprise to see a flurry of Vancouver players swarm Hall and make him fight.
It was a shame, however, for multiple reasons. First off, the hit wasn't dirty. It wasn't even a deliberate bodycheck. Hall leaned back on his skates to slow his momentum and held out his arms as if protecting himself from imminent impact. It was more of a crash than a bonecrushing hit. We can debate whether Larsen's head was the principal point of contact – I don't believe it was at all – but it's irrelevant when assessing Hall's guilt. There was no intent there. He won't be disciplined by the NHL for an accident.
And yet, thanks to the sport's culture of immediate and forceful vengeance, Hall had to fight anyway. In the spur of the moment, in the heat of elite competition, players are simply too jacked up to take a breath and assess the situation. They see a comrade fall and, in mere milliseconds, seek and destroy whoever caused the harm.
“You always have a problem with a hit when one of your guys gets hit hard," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins told the Vancouver Province's Jason Botchford after the the game. "It doesn’t matter if it’s a clean hit. You have a problem when a guy gets hit that hard. I think all coaches would.”
The ironic thing about this tough-guy mentality is that it could end up pushing one of the toughest things about hockey out of the game: good, clean hits. If the swarm mentality goes on much longer, the only guys willing to lay opponents out with big hits will be those ready and willing to drop the gloves right afterward. Sooner or later players might decide it's not worth sitting five minutes and/or risking injury just to put a lick on a guy. And, in Hall's case, he wasn't even trying to drill Larsen.
Will we ever stop seeing players attacked after clean hits? I doubt it. The revenge assault is a crime of passion, a snap decision. But maybe, just maybe, the Canucks and players all over the world can learn a bit from what happened right after Larsen got hit. Watch:
The first instinct, sadly, is not to help Larsen, but to destroy Hall. Center Michael Chaput immediately starts a fight. That causes a pileup of players from both teams – all around the unconscious Larsen. It's downright disturbing to see him getting kicked in the head by his own teammates’ skates. Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom tries to box out Larsen and keep him safe. Markus Granlund tries as well but has to step over and onto Larsen in the process. It’s a miracle Larsen wasn’t cut. None of that would've happened had Chaput thought of Larsen first.
The ugly scene is a reminder that, right after a teammate takes a massive hit, the first priority should be to protect him. The best way to do that isn't to attack his attacker. It's to attend to the teammate first. There's plenty of time to review what happened and take down the perpetrator's number for later in the game. That's what jumbo-tron replays are for. And, in cases like Hall's, the violence would be averted altogether if players watched the replay and realized it was an accident.
Sadly, the idea is a pipe dream, and I don’t expect players to learn from Larsen's fate anytime soon. But we can always hope.
Matt Larkin is a writer and editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to thn.com. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights have hit another hurdle with their name, this time with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A trademark request has been rejected, but it doesn’t sound like the team expects a name change.
The Vegas Golden Knights are really having a tough time catching a break in the naming department.
On Wednesday, a trademark request by the Golden Knights was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in large part because the name and logo were deemed too similar to that of the NCAA’s College of St. Rose Golden Knights.
Yes, that’s right, yet another roadblock between the NHL’s newest franchise and the name Golden Knights.
The first hurdle for the team, and the first real hubbub about the name, came shortly after the naming ceremony in late November. The team had only had the Golden Knights moniker in place for a week when it was reported by The Fayetteville Observer’s Steve DeVane that the U.S. Army was set to review Vegas’ use of the name because it is shared by the Army’s highly decorated parachute team.
And all that came after Vegas owner Bill Foley purposely strayed from his first choice for the team name, Black Knights, in order to avoid any conflict with the U.S. Army’s NCAA athletics programs and after the singular name, Knights, was reportedly avoided in order to forego any conflict with the OHL’s London Knights.
Suffice to say, the naming process has been a headache thus far. However, before those who despise the name and/or logo go celebrating in the streets, it should be noted that the latest naming hurdle likely means nothing in the long run.
Shortly after the news of the rejection started to pick up steam online, Vegas released a statement to Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt saying that the team plans to respond to the rejection and adding that this isn’t an uncommon obstacle when filing for a trademark.
“Office actions like this are not at all unusual, and we will proceed with the help of outside counsel in preparing a response to this one,” the statement reads.
In their statement, Vegas also pointed to the shared names of UCLA and Boston, both named the Bruins, Miami and Carolina, both named the Hurricanes, and even pointed out that Vegas and Clarkson share the Golden Knights name. None of this is to mention the MLB’s Texas Rangers and the NHL’s New York Rangers share a name.
ESPN’s sports business reporter Darren Rovell said the worst-case scenario would likely see Vegas strike a deal with St. Rose College.
While Foley hasn’t yet commented on the situation outside of a brief comment to NBC Las Vegas’ Amber Dixon, saying that the trademark had not been denied, the team’s senior vice president, Murray Craven, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Ben Gotz that organization believes “this will be fine.”
“We believe, at the end of the day, all parties will embrace the fact that we are the Vegas Golden Knights and this absolutely will work out,” Craven told Gotz. “I hope people don’t overreact to this at all. We believe everyone will be satisfied. We are only going to enhance the name Golden Knights for everyone. That’s our goal.”
UPDATE: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly has released the following statement:
“We are currently reviewing the Trademark Office's letter and will prepare a detailed response demonstrating why we continue strongly to believe the Vegas Golden Knights mark should be registered in co-existence with the college registration, just as a number of other nicknames currently co-exist in professional and college sports (particularly where there is no overlap as to the sport for which the nickname is being used). That response is not due until June 7, 2017.
“We consider this a routine matter and it is not our intention to reconsider the name or logo of this franchise. We fully intend to proceed as originally planned, relying on our common law trademark rights as well as our state trademark registrations while we work through the process of addressing the question raised in the federal applications.”
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Canucks defenseman Philip Larsen was left motionless after taking a big hit from Devils winger Taylor Hall on Tuesday night. Larsen, 27, was taken off the ice on a stretcher, but was responsive before being taken to hospital for further evaluation.
There’s concern for the health of Canucks defenseman Philip Larsen after the 27-year-old was hit hard and stretchered off the ice Tuesday
In the second period of Vancouver’s outing against the New Jersey Devils, the puck got worked behind the Canucks’ net, where Larsen was waiting for a puck that had been sent back for him to pick up. As Larsen turned to receive the puck on his backhand, he turned his head and when he swung back around he was met with a hard check from Devils winger Taylor Hall.
The hit knocked Larsen hard, causing him to fall backwards and slam his head off the ice. A scrum around Larsen broke out following the hit by Hall as Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom and center Markus Granlund attempted to push the pile up away from Larsen, who remained motionless on the ice.
A hush fell across the Prudential Center as medical staffs from both the Devils and Canucks attended to Larsen. After a few minutes, Larsen’s teammates and the medical staffs helped the lifted the defenseman, who was strapped to a backboard, onto a stretcher and wheeled him off the ice.
Thankfully, the Canucks announced Larsen was both awake and responsive before being taken to hospital for further evaluation.
When it comes to the hit by Hall, it’s not so much a dirty hit as it is an absolutely terrible result. As he followed through on the hit, Hall kept his arm tucked, and the contact with the head isn’t so much a case of Hall targeting Larsen as it is the awkward way in which they collided as the Canucks rearguard opened up to his left.
More than anything, it’s the unfortunate contact Larsen’s head makes with the ice that results in the injury to Larsen.
Larsen has played in 16 games this season for the Canucks, registering four assists and averaging nearly 18 minutes of ice time per game. Larsen spent the past two seasons in the KHL before signing a one-year, $1.025-million deal with the Canucks in the off-season.
He was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the fifth-round, 149th overall, in 2008, and has played 141 career games with eight goals and 35 points.
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The Coyotes are reportedly looking to move out Anthony Duclair, and that was the case as early as this past summer. Duclair was reportedly part of a trade offer Arizona made for Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton.
Last week, Calgary Flames president Brian Burke publicly dismissed mounting speculation suggesting his club could be shopping defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Burke also said a club made what he called an insulting offer for Hamilton last summer.
That team, apparently, was the Arizona Coyotes. According to TSN's Darren Dreger, Coyotes GM John Chayka approached Flames GM Brad Treliving around the 2016 NHL Draft with an offer of young winger Anthony Duclair and a draft pick for the 23-year-old Hamilton. Dreger said the talks didn't go very far and doesn't know why this story recently resurfaced, though Burke obviously had enough.
The Flames might not be moving Hamilton, but NHL insider Pierre LeBrun last Friday told Vancouver's TSN 1040 that Treliving had talks about other players with several teams in recent weeks. Given the Flames' improvement over the last couple of weeks, those discussions have cooled.
While Burke's comments should put an end to the Hamilton trade chatter for a while, this story should further stoke conjecture over the 21-year-old Duclair's future with the Coyotes. He was thought to be a key part of their rebuilding program, with a respectable 20-goal, 44-point rookie performance last season.
Of late, however, there's talk the Coyotes could entertain offers for Duclair, who's managed only four points in 24 games this season. It was believed they wanted a good young player, preferably a center, as a return. Given their pursuit of Hamilton last summer, a promising blueliner could also fit the bill.
SENATORS SEEKING DEPTH FORWARD
TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported last Thursday Senators general manager Pierre Dorion was working the phones for a versatile bottom-six forward. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch also reports Dorion's shopping for a forward after placing winger Bobby Ryan on injured reserve.
While the Coyotes are reportedly willing to listen to offers for winger Anthony Duclair, LeBrun claims the Senators aren't interested. That's understandable, as the Coyotes apparently seek a good young player who can help them right away. Dorion can't spare that type of player.
Another option could be Boston Bruins forward Ryan Spooner, who can skate at center or on the wing. The Bruins are apparently talking with several clubs. Spooner's $950K salary-cap hit is certainly enticing, plus he had a 49-point campaign in 2015-16. While Dorion's looking for someone to play on his checking lines, Ryan's injury might make him reconsider.
Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes could be another option. Garrioch reported Sunday the Bruins would like to move him, but Dorion could balk at his poor production (one goal in 23 games) and $2.3-million annual cap hit through 2017-18.
Garrioch also reports Edmonton Oilers left wing Benoit Pouliot could be available. He said the Oilers weren't shopping the 30-year-old veteran, but had spoken with several clubs to gauge their interest. He also notes the New York Islanders are trying to move winger Nikolai Kulemin.
Both players, however, carry rather pricey cap hits. Pouliot is pulling in $4-million annually through 2018-19, while the 30-year-old Kulemin's is earning $4.187 million through 2017-18.
A more affordable option could be Toronto Maple Leafs center Peter Holland. With a $1.3-million cap hit for this season, the 25-year-old is reportedly on the trade block. The Sens and Leafs have a recent trade history, so perhaps this could be a move that helps both sides.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.). For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.