By Michael Russo
OK, suddenly a ton of news here in Edmonton.
Left wing Derek Boogaard has been suspended five games for his elbow on Brandon Prust last night. Boogaard was assessed a two-minute minor for boarding. This is the first suspension of his career. He’ll miss the rest of the road trip.
The suspension hasn’t been officially announced yet, so my rough math says Boogaard will be fined $23,521. That’s five days prorated off his $875,000 salary-cap hit. Pretty sure that’s accurate.
Prust, who is coming back from a broken jaw, is out with a concussion.
GM Doug Risebrough wouldn’t comment on the suspension other than to say, “Obviously the league saw it differently than the concussion [Edmonton's Sheldon] Souray inflicted on [Craig] Weller with the plastic [wrist] guard.”
I emailed NHL discipline czar Colie Campbell about the suspension and the inconsistency with Souray on Weller (he missed 13 games): “The hit was late and there was distinct contact to the head of Brandon Prust by Derek Boogaard with his elbow. Prust has suffered a concussion from this incident. I have dealt with the Edmonton organization regarding Sheldon Souray’s wrist guard and his future involvement in any fisticuffs.”
Campbell warned Souray about the huge wrist guard at the All-Star Game. A replay discovered earlier this month showing Souray blatantly turning and nailing Weller with the guard. The team turned the video into the league, and nothing came of it.
The thing that surprises me the most about this suspension is the suspension on Brendan Witt a few days ago. The Islanders defenseman got the same five games for elbowing Nik Hagman in the head the other night. It was pretty disgusting. The intent was clear. It was a blatant flying elbow. But Witt is a repeat offender. This is Boogaard’s first phone call with Colie Campbell in his career.
Mike Keenan also questioned why Lemaire had Boogaard on the ice with 1:12 left. I asked Lemaire about this, and he said, “I don’t know why he questions that. He played a regular shift the whole game. If he wouldn’t have played, that’s different. He wouldn’t have been there at the end.”
Boogaard is very disappointed. He admits the hit was late, but he said if he was concussed, it had to be the boards, ice or glass. Apparently, the players’ union said there’s a TV angle that shows Prust’s head hitting the glass.
In other news, according to sources, the Wild has placed winger Craig Weller on waivers. Because its the weekend, he wouldn’t clear or get claimed until Monday. This comes as a surprise. One has to think something’s brewing because the Wild has a free spot and could just put Owen Nolan on IR if it needed roster space.
It’s believed the Wild has talked to other teams about Weller and is trying to get to take his contract, which he’s got another year left. If he clears, the Wild could send him to the minors, which gives it flexibility going into the trade deadline to make a trade to add some players and be able to clear a roster spot if it quickly needs to.
Weller was told by assistant coach Mike Ramsey, and is very disappointed and confused by the whole thing. Interestingly, the Wild didn’t know about the Boogaard suspension when it made this decision, so if Weller does get claimed, the team will be without a fighter the next four games.
Weller will play tonight. Colton Gillies will play for Boogaard.
Lemaire said the Wild is considering playing Kurtis Foster tonight, but hasn’t made a decision. He skated for a long time this morning. He was told to come to the rink ready to play just in case.
Lemaire had a long, long conversation with Marek Zidlicky today. He said Zidlicky is struggling, still having trouble adjusting to the Wild’s system from Nashville’s. More on that tomorrow or later in the week.
I was talking to Marc Crawford, Scott Oake and the rest of the CBC guys this morning. They are excited for the game because they believe two very desperate teams should make for a very good game.
Lemaire joked that he plans to have a flashing URGENT sign on his forehead to remind his players of the importance of the game and all the games from here on out.
“We’ve got a game tonight. We’re lucky it’s at 8 o’clock. An hour more to prepare,” he quipped.
Also, “We’re very pleased to still be in the running in the playoffs, but I know one thing, if we don’t wake up, it won’t last long.”