After hit, shockwaves
Ex-coaches Cherry, Milbury rip Ference for comments
WILMINGTON — On Saturday, using their respective platforms on CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada,’’ two former Bruins coaches trashed Andrew Ference for his straight-up remarks on Daniel Paille’s blind-side hit of Dallas’s Raymond Sawada last Thursday.
First, Don Cherry had his say on “Coach’s Corner.’’
“The guy that got me on this whole thing was Ference,’’ Cherry said. “I don’t care if your teammate is an ax murderer. What you’ve got to say to the guy, you tell him in the dressing room. You tell him that was a dirty hit. You never go to the press like Ference did and say that was a bad hit. The kid’s going to lose $23,000 over that. They don’t need a guy like Ference.
“I’m going to tell you something right now, I’d hate to be in that dressing room right now. See what happened in the game today? Two-nothing. That brings your dressing room down when you have a guy in your dressing room talking about your own players and you know he’s going to get suspended.’’
Following the 6-3 win over the Stars, Ference acknowledged that Paille had thrown a questionable check on Sawada — one that led to a four-game suspension and a $23,118.28 fine for the left wing. Ference referenced the hits on Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron, noting that the Bruins didn’t like those incidents.
“It’s a bad hit, right? That’s what they’re trying to get rid of,’’ said Ference. “You can’t be hypocritical about it when it happens to you, then say it’s fine when your teammate does it. It’s a hit they’re trying to get rid of. You hear it from every player after they do it. They feel bad. Same thing. I talked to Danny and he feels bad. It’s tough. That backchecking forward, to make those kinds of hits, it’s so hard to do it in a clean fashion with the new rules.’’
After Cherry took his shots, Mike Milbury piled on during “Hot Stove.’’
“Keep it to yourself, Andrew Ference,’’ Milbury said. “Let [Paille] know sometime later down the line. Tell him, ‘Hey, you can’t do that. That’s what we’re trying to get out of the game.’ See him in a quiet corner. If he does it five or six times, if he’s out of line, then it’s time for someone else, like the coach or the manager, to step in. You can’t do it. You just can’t do it. It’s unacceptable.’’
Following yesterday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, Ference didn’t shy away from his statements. He also dispelled any notion about his comments disrupting the chemistry.
“It’s a joke,’’ Ference said of such speculation. “Our room’s awesome. Stuff like that doesn’t divide locker rooms. Are you kidding me? Go down the room and ask every single guy. Don’t lower yourself to that. It’s an issue that has to be taken seriously. It’s concussions. It’s guys’ lives. When you talk about something like that, it’s not something you throw around lightly. It’s a guy’s life. Ask Marc Savard how he’s feeling. Ask Bergeron how his year was. It’s more than something you just print in the newspaper. It’s a serious issue and it has to be dealt with.’’
Ference has always been quick to defend his teammates. In Thursday’s first period, after Adam Burish ignored an offside whistle and shot a puck at Tuukka Rask, Ference challenged the forward to a fight, during which Burish suffered facial fractures.
On Nov. 6, after David Backes bowled over Mark Recchi with a clean hit, Ference jumped the St. Louis forward.
Savard shutdown imminent According to ESPN Boston, the Bruins will announce today that Savard will be shut down for the rest of the season.
Savard, who suffered a moderate concussion Jan. 22 and is still experiencing headaches, met with team doctors last Friday. The following day, Savard, agent Larry Kelly, and general manager Peter Chiarelli discussed how to proceed. The Bruins had been pessimistic about Savard’s return when the center’s post-concussion symptoms hadn’t waned after more than 10 days after he absorbed the hit.
“There’s no way any doctor is going to clear him,’’ a team source said last week.
Savard and the Bruins will defer any retirement discussions until the offseason.
Critical game next The Bruins have been given today off. They will practice tomorrow in preparation for Wednesday’s pivotal home game against Montreal. The Canadiens are hot on the Bruins’ rear bumper for first place in the Northeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference.
“They’re a team that, defensively, they like to smother you,’’ coach Claude Julien said. “In the neutral zone, it’s almost a 1-4 at times, especially when they take a lead.’’
The Canadiens are 3-0-0 against the Bruins this season. In their last meeting, Montreal wiped out a two-goal third-period deficit to claim a 3-2 overtime win Jan. 8.
Beanpot representation The Bruins have three prospects competing in the Beanpot tonight at TD Garden: senior Tommy Cross (Boston College), sophomore Alexander Fallstrom (Harvard), and junior David Warsofsky (Boston University). Cross could sign with Providence once he concludes his season . . . The Bruins concluded practice with two-on-two battle drills down low. The Sharks won the majority of battles and puck races in their 2-0 win Saturday . . . Paille, who began serving his suspension Saturday, is eligible to practice during his banishment. He skated on the fourth line yesterday with Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell, and Tyler Seguin . . . Zach Hamill, who made his season debut Saturday, remained on the third line between Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder at practice . . . Peter Forsberg signed a contract with the Avalanche. He kicked off his comeback Jan. 22 with a morning skate prior to the Bruins’ 6-2 win over Colorado.
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.