For a man who goes out of his way to avoid media controversy, this week has been particularly bothersome for Chilliwack Bruins head coach Marc Habscheid.
It started last Saturday night, following a 5-1 home-ice loss to the Kamloops Blazers that ended with a 10-player brawl and allegations of biting.
The Blazers alleged that Chilliwack forward T.C. Cratsenberg bit Blazer defenceman Brady Gaudet, and Kamloops coach Guy Charron was fuming as he came up to the press box afterwards for his post-game interview.
Talking with Radio NL (Kamloops) play-by-play man Jon Keen, Charron said he would file a complaint with the league, and went on to lob some verbal grenades at his coaching counterpart.
“There was clearly a tooth mark on Gaudet’s hand, and the referee admitted to seeing it, but said there’s no regulation to it,” Charron started. “But there is a rule to be applied when you do that in an altercation. Whether you scratch a face or bite, that’s not part of the rules of fighting.”
Charron went on to raise the notion that Habscheid plays certain players near the end of no-doubt games in an attempt to stir up trouble.
In this particular instance Cratsenberg, Mike Forsyth and Blair Wentworth were in the middle of the last-minute fracas.
None are known for their pugilisic skill, but Charron insisted they were out there to raise a ruckus.
“The same pattern occurs every time. He always denies this, and when I look over at him he just shakes his head and says, ‘What’s wrong?’ But I wish the league and officiating would know that this often happens. That’s the way he does things and as long as he continues to get away with it, he’ll continue to do it.”
Charron ended with a quote that really caught Habscheid’s attention.
“Hopefully there is a time where those who started the fight have an opportunity to dance with some of our better guys for dancing, and we’ll see what happens then,” Charron said.
“The end of that interview, it sounded like he was a little threatening,” Habscheid retorted. “And in the age of Todd Bertuzzi I’d be careful about making statements like that. You just put yourself at risk, and we’ll be watching.”
Habscheid continued with a denial, saying he doesn’t coach the way Charron says he does.
“Don’t throw stones when you live in a glass house. They’ve got their own problems to deal with,” he said bluntly.
Adding to the intrigue was a bizarre post-game celebration that had the Blazers skating to their goal and dancing around like a tribe of African warriors — a departure from the usual congratulate-the-goalie-and-get-off-the-ice method.
“I’ve heard about that, and that’s one more thing he should be concerning himself with rather than worrying about everything else,” Habscheid noted. “We’re just trying to win hockey games and they’re the ones running their mouths.”
Habscheid’s week got a little bit worse Wednesday night as his Bruins travelled up to Kelowna to absorb a 6-4 loss, their sixth straight setback.
An energetic start had them leading 2-1 through 40 minutes. But a second period penalty parade led to four Kelowna goals and one Habscheid unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 14:48 for questioning referees Steve Papp and Matt Thurston.
Power plays at that point favoured the Rockets 7-2, and Habscheid’s minor set up Kelowna’s third lengthy five-on-three advantage.
“When the general manager of the opposing team is shaking his head too, we’ll just leave it at that,” Habscheid said. “We’d already been down two men twice in the game, and at some point you’ve got to try and defend your players a little bit. There’s no doubt we’ve got to have more discipline, but it was tough to take because our guys put in a good effort and we deserved better.”
Chilliwack enters this weekend sitting ninth in the Western conference with a record of 21-25-2-2, trailing eighth place Kamloops by a single point.
If the off-ice ice stuff wasn’t motivating enough, the stakes in the standings ought to get the good guys moving.
“We’re making strides in the right diraction and it’s starting to come around,” Hascheid said. “We’ve got to keep going and doing the right things, and eventually we’ll be rewarded for it.”
Puck drop for Saturday night’s game is 7 p.m.