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The Misplaced Weekend

By Ryan Hammond


The past 48 hours are a story of good news/bad news for Red Wings fans.

That’s an improvement over the first few weeks of the season, which can only be described as “craptacular.”

Detroit earned a shootout win over Montreal on Saturday night, pulling within one point of the Blue Jackets and two points of the division leading Blackhawks. This would normally be call for moderate celebration.

But Niklas Kronwall went down in the first period, sustaining damage in a knee-on-knee collision with Georges Laraque. Early speculation was that he’d suffered either a second or third degree sprain, and would be out two-to-three weeks at minimum.

Word came down the pike last night: the sprain was third degree, and he’d need four-to-eight weeks. Laraque will face a disciplinary hearing today.

"You know it's something that shouldn't happen in hockey," said Mike Babcock. "A guy shouldn't hang his leg out there and hurt another guy. It's unacceptable and it's disappointing, obviously. We just lost a good player for a period of time. Our doctors will look at him, but he's out for a chunk for sure."

Ken Holland was of a similar mind.

Asked if he thought the hit dirty, Holland didn't hesitate.

"Absolutely," he said. "Yes, it was dirty. It was knee-on-knee, and I believe knee-on-knee is a dirty play. I don't know if the referees saw it. I just saw Nik go down, and then I got to watch it on TV and video replay."

Laraque is voicing the customary opposition, and seems to believe his actions are being blown out of proportion.

"There were four refs on the ice and they didn't call anything. If they called a match penalty, it would be different. There was no intent, there was no reason why I would try to go and hurt him. It was a pure accident. That's why they called it tripping, so I'm not worried at all."

Former player and current TSN broadcaster Ray Ferraro noted that while Laracque had a very clean disciplinary record, his hit in the November 21st game was “reprehensible.”

I know the game moves so fast, and there is no way Laraque had time to think "I am going to stick out my leg and hurt Kronwall". However, that is exactly what happened. Again, look at the play. Laraque's leg was off the ice, that meant he could,and did, stick his leg into Kronwall's path.

This will be suspendible, but for how long? Kronwall will be out anywhere from four to eight weeks with a sprained MCL. With my history of knee problems, I'm guessing it is closer to eight weeks than four weeks.

What does this mean for the Wings? They move forward with yet another regular player on injured/reserve. That list holds the names of five injured skaters, two of which are defensemen. Losing Kronwall will be especially difficult; he was playing some of the best hockey of his career before this injury.

Detroit’s foremost hockey team has a several problems to confront, and none of them have immediate or obvious solutions. They multiplied before Sunday night was over. Chicago won again, bringing the gap back to four points.


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