Maple Leafs flip their lids
What I can't appreciate is some of the ridiculous postgame comments from some of the Leafs and their coach:
"It's tough when you see a guy [Vandermeer] who can barely play in this league take out one of the best players in this league," Toronto center Jeff O'Neill said. "I don't know if he meant to do it or not, but this sucks for us."
"The play happened on the other side of the ice, and I didn't get a good look at it," Maurice said. "I do know it was a knee-on-knee hit. Our guy will be out a long time and their guy will probably be in the minors by the time our guy gets back."Perhaps the Leafs scouting staff didn't give him much of a briefing, but I'd expect Maurice to have a better handle on his opposition: Vandermeer has played every game this season, is a second-pairing defenceman (on a team that currently has a better record than the Leafs) who plays about 18 minutes a night for the 'Hawks. He had a strong season last year as well, with a Chicago team that was far worse, playing 76 games and recording 24 points in about 22 minutes per game.
I wonder if any reporters at last night's game thought to ask O'Neill why a "guy who can barely play in this league" is averaging nearly five more minutes a night than he is.
There's also zero chance Vandermeer will be playing in the minors this season, and my guess is, at just 26, he'll be in the NHL long after Peca and O'Neill hang them up.
Vandermeer's an up-and-coming, hard-nosed defenceman, and he's saying here that he honestly wasn't trying to injury Peca. Even if a suspension is warranted (which it may be), there's no reason to take baseless cheapshots at a player just because you've chosen to be ignorant of your opposition. (This just reeks of more arrogance from a team that has had a history of carrying themselves that way.)
As I said, I didn't particularly like the hit and it's certainly unfortunate Peca's likely out the remainder of the season, but with a reaction like this, is it any wonder the Leafs lost the game?