COMMENTARY: The Phoenix Coyotes, seething after Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown flattened Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival late in the overtime period, lost their composure, and, as a result, the game, and the series. They embarrassed themselves, and their organization, after the game, with perhaps the most ridiculous excuses one could possibly imagine for losing a playoff series.
LOS ANGELES — After watching and listening to the reactions of some of the Phoenix Coyotes after they lost in Game 5 of the 2012 Western Conference Finals, a 4-3 overtime defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings, one would get the idea that the entire world, outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area, was against them.
That was just one of the common refrains emanating from the Coyotes dressing room after the game—they were livid about the officiating, especially after Kings right wing Dustin Brown laid out Coyotes defenseman Michal Rozsival at the Phoenix blue line late in the overtime period.
On the play, Brown was skating across the blue line, and had Rozsival lined up for a hit. A moment after the whistle blew for an offsides call, Brown nailed Rozsival, his shoulder slamming into his chest, while his left leg struck Rozsival’s left leg.
No penalty was called on the play, and Rozsival had to be helped off the ice, and into the dressing room, sending the Coyotes into such a fit of rage, that when play resumed, they had totally lost their composure. As a result, they were sloppy in their own zone on the next shift, as they all focused too much on the puck. That allowed Kings left wing Dustin Penner to move into the slot, totally unchecked, and he banged in a rebound at the 17:42 mark of the overtime period to win the game, and the series, for the Kings.
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith was beside himself.
“When Brown gets away with something like that after the whistle, knee-on-knee, that’s a dangerous play,” he said. “If [Coyotes forward] Raffi Torres gets 25 games for his hit [on Chicago forward Marian Hossa], this guy should be done forever.”
Regardless of whether or not Brown deserved a penalty, the game is played between the whistles, and once it resumed, the Coyotes had to be ready to play.
They were not.
“It wasn’t the ending we would’ve wanted, obviously, with the situation with Rozsival getting hurt, hurting his knee, and them scoring on the next shift,” said Coyotes winger Ray Whitney. “We were up in arms a little bit. We were a little flustered by that. Definitely a disappointing way to end it.”
“We have to take some blame for [giving up the goal] too, [for] not [settling] down and just keep playing,” said Coyotes captain Shane Doan. “It’s something where we could have just settled down and continued to play.”
Indeed, if the Coyotes had maintained their poise and focus on the task at hand, instead of focusing on what they thought should have been a penalty on Brown, they might be preparing for a Game 6 in this series instead of an earlier-than-desired summer vacation.
But those comments were just the tip of the iceberg, as the Coyotes went off the deep end, blaming the officials for their loss in the game, the series, and, seemingly, for everything else under the hot Arizona sun.
“It’s disappointing, for a season to end like that,” said Smith. “It’s disappointing that we not only got beaten by them, but by the officials, too.”
“It’s not just this game, it’s all season long,” added Smith. “It seems like they did everything they could to [prevent us from getting] to this position. I’m not taking anything away from the Kings. They deserve to be here. They play hard, they’re a tough opponent. But when we battle as hard as we do to get to this point—it seems like everyone was against us.”
The players then pointed their fingers at the league and its officials, claiming that there was a conspiracy against them.
“It’s a crime scene, it’s unfortunate,” said Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle. “For us, especially, they know we don’t have an owner [the team is being operated by the league on a temporary basis], we don’t have anyone to back us up. I don’t know if it’s an easy way for [the officials] to not make calls, and not show up.”
“I know they wear the same color jerseys as them, as the Kings,” he added. “But they didn’t have to play for them tonight. [It’s] extremely frustrating. It’s something where you work for a whole season, a whole career, and for some guys, you might not get back to this. For it to be taken by some guys who aren’t playing, it’s tough.”
“Today was unfortunate, the bad officiating,” said Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris. “There’s no accountability with them, that’s the only problem. They don’t have anybody to answer to. They say that they do, but they don’t.”
Doan wasn’t far behind.
“I look back on the last two games and I still haven’t found where I got my three penalties,” he lamented. “I have absolutely no idea were they came from or what they were calling.”
For his part, Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett was not going to get caught up in any of that.
“[Complaining about the officiating is] not going to do any good right now,” said Tippett. “I think you guys should just write what you saw. If you write what you saw, you’ll see why people get frustrated.”
“You know, the players, I mean, there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into this,” added Tippett. “There’s a lot of emotion in the game. It is what it is.”
After all that, the Coyotes contradicted themselves, giving credit to the Kings.
“It feels awful, and you don’t want to be a part of it,” said Doan. “You have to give credit to LA. They played a great series. They are playing really well right now and have a bunch of guys playing well. It’s hard because you don’t want to take anything away from LA because they played unbelievably and give them all the credit.”
“You can’t credit them enough,” said Yandle. “They played awesome. Their goaltender was amazing. They’ve got a lot of great forwards, great defensemen.”
Indeed, after all the whining about the officiating, and the off-the-deep-end conspiracy theories, the truth finally came from the mouths of the Coyotes.
“This was definitely our best all-around game, from the offensive side,” Whitney noted. “We showed, the last two games, what kind of team we are. Unfortunately, we didn’t start the series the way we would’ve liked. In the end, that’s what cost us. That’s what’s disappointing. We didn’t play, at the start of the series, the way we played at the end. We just didn’t do what we were supposed to do in the first three games.”
“We played better that last two, even the last two-and-a-half [games],” added Whitney. “We were just a little too late. Our readiness to compete, at the level they were playing at, just wasn’t there for a big part of the series.”
“They played a real good series,” said Morris. “They got an early lead on us, 3-0, and we were scraping to get back. We played our best, the last two games.”
“I thought we played great,” said Yandle. “The last two games, we showed what we had. The first three games, we didn’t play as good as we had.”
To be sure, if the Coyotes had played, in Games 1 and 2, the way they played in the last two games, this series would likely still be undecided.
“I thought we had a lot of players that were a little bit awestruck in Game 1,” said Tippett. “Young players, we talked about the bar getting raised, and you’re going to have to be better. In Game 1, I think we stood around and watched the game a lot. Game 2, the first half of the game, I thought we played very well, got ourselves in it, got ourselves in penalty trouble. Really, for the rest of the series after that, it was very tight.”
“I think part of it you got to give them credit for what they’re doing,” added Tippett. “They’re playing a pretty complete game there those first few games. We went in, played a strong Game 4. Smith gave us a heck of a game. Doan gave us a heck of a game, and I thought it was a very competitive game tonight.”
“LA played well. Early in the series they played very well. Ultimately, the last two games, I thought were our best games, but they were too late. LA beat us. That’s what should be remembered, not the refereeing.”
Although Tippett remained above the fray after the game, some of his players, all part of the Coyotes’ leadership group, failed miserably, led by Doan, their captain.
Do they honestly believe the league and its officials are out to get them, and that they were in bed with the Kings? If they do, then there are some questions the Coyotes should answer:
How do they explain the fact that Morris got away with an obvious knee-on-knee hit on Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi earlier in the series, that was much more blatant than Brown’s hit on Rozsival, since Brown first made contact with his shoulder to Rozsival’s chest? Also, if the argument is that the hit was late, it came just as the whistle was blown for an offsides call. Brown did not appear to have enough time to pull up.
If Smith is going to complain about Brown, comparing the hit to Torres’ vicious hit on Hossa, claiming that it was far more severe than Torres’ hit, then how does he explain his vicious slash to the back of Brown’s knee earlier in the series? The only reason he did not receive supplementary discipline for that is because he is the Coyotes’ starting netminder, and the league is not going to suspend a starting goalie during the playoffs unless he maims someone. Add to that Smith’s swing-and-a-miss slash attempt on Kings center Mike Richards immediately following Penner’s game-winner—there was no penalty called—Smith really isn’t one who should be criticizing officials.
How does Doan explain not getting a penalty when he cross checked Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell in the face during a pile-up in front of the Kings’ net, earlier in the series?
How does Coyotes center Martin Hanzal explain snapping his head back, trying to sell a high-sticking call during Game 5, when it was clear that the stick did not make contact with his face?
To be fair, all of the Coyotes’ complaints were made right after the game, while players were just barely cooling off from the heat of the battle, and it is quite likely that more reasoned, tempered comments will be forthcoming. But really…claiming that the referees were against them, not only in this game, but all season long, and that there was a conspiracy against them, with a big reason for that being that they had no owner?
In the 15 years I have been covering the Kings and the NHL professionally, and in the 39 years I have been following them, I have never heard such outlandish, embarrassing excuses for losing in the post-season.
Indeed, Morris talked about the lack of accountability on the part of the officials. Seems to me he should be far more worried about his own team and their apparent accountability issues—blaming everyone but yourselves is not the way your team is going to improve and move forward. That is not the way it’s done in the NHL.
The sad thing is that they obviously know the real reasons that they lost the game, and the series. After all, they spelled it out in great detail—they lost their composure after Brown’s hit on Rozsival. If they had kept their heads, there is a very, very good chance that they would be preparing for a sixth game here in Los Angeles on May 24. They also admitted that they played poorly in Games 1-3, going down in the series, 3-0, and that despite putting in good efforts in Games 4-5, it was too little, too late.
It is extremely disappointing to see a team fail to step up and accept responsibility, especially when they clearly know the real reasons for their failure. Even worse, that failure now extends to their character, not just their performance on the ice.
Coyotes general manager Don Maloney should be horribly embarrassed, deeply concerned, and maybe even angry, because of the immature reactions by some of his players. These comments were absolutely disgraceful, and they certainly reflect poorly on the organization as a whole.
Stick tap to Arctic Ice Hockey for mentioning this story.
2012 Western Conference Final, Los Angeles Kings vs. Phoenix Coyotes, Game 5 Highlights, May 22, 2012
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True, Shane Doan is usually the classiest of guys, unfortunately for Phoenix the players took the lead from him after the brown collision, and they never settled. They looked more intent on head hunting after that rather then play and it cost them a goal and the series end. Watching the whole series you would be stupid to say the refs cost the coyotes that series. LA has just been incredible end of story. From the goalie to their fourth line they have been a total team and deserve going to the finals.
wow, you lost get over it. whine like a bitch!! should be done forever? then head hunting against Chicago should be shot. remember, mike smith allowed the goals.
Great article, Gann. I haven’t seen an angry handshake line since the ’96 Avalanche/Wings series.
All above was well said. You could not have put this story more perfectly. Yes, I’m a Kings fan, but we both know that our circles can be unbiased and call the game for what it is. And last night, the behavior by both the Coyotes organization and their fans (being when they threw trash on the ice and insisted on giving thumbs down and flipping off everyone on camera) should be ashamed of themselves. Poor losers? Not even close to describing them. I can’t count the number of times the Kings and their fans have been on the short end of things. Yet I still find it in me to applaud what has happened in front of me, historically. I guess times have changed and so have the fans and players.
Yandle’s comments were unreal. It’s hilarious that he says they have no owner and nobody to stick up for them. Hey dummy, THE LEAGUE IS YOUR OWNER!! If anything, they’d me more biased TOWARDS you, not against you, especially to market and sell you!
Ditto. I find it so hilarious that this team wants to call foul and conspiracy theories about losing. The Kings barely made it into the playoffs and everyone assumed they’d be eliminated just as fast as last time. Why would the league suddenly make it easier for an 8 Seed to win so much after ousting the favorites? C’mon. And how about the stunts they’ve been pulling on their penalties? I knew nothing about the Coyotes going into the playoffs, but there’s one thing I do know now even before this game – they define the term ‘douchebaggery.’ Smith especially.
Tremendous read gann. dead on. i think the officiating overall in the playoffs (all series) have been about a c grade. i think calls were blown on both sides in this series, as you highlighted in your piece. the brown play last night was 50/50 to me. but, you gotta keep playing. and it was clear that they (yotes) did not show up for that next shift. someone went after voynov and tried to send him through the glass instead of playing d, that allowed carter and penner to move into the o-zone and create that last play to win it. overall, kings outplayed the yotes and deserve to move on.
Go Kings Go!
The fans of phoenix showed how classless they are too, by throwing crap on the ice. i was in the stands and had to endure fans screaming at me about how kings suck or yelling “cheap shots”. so i just turned to them and said what their motto was all year….”get over it, its “hockey the hard way”
It’s truly amazing to me that the players forget about what their team did and got away with as well. Having an owner of your team doesn’t matter one bit. The only classy comment was from Ray Whitney.
Ask Raffi Torres
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Stay classy, TJ
Must be nice to only watch one series all year and make your judgements of of that one eh TJ?? ridiculous bandwagonners that never even watched their own team let alone any other hockey games
TJ What About MIKE SMITH Takin Whacks at At the KINGS every chance he got?!?!?! CLASS ACT!!
excellent read, Gann! And we all know there could be many more examples. Had the Yotes powerplay succeeded in overtime on the horrible interference penalty on Doughty when Whitney was holding HIS stick so not to have separation and make it look as though Drew was holding him up, I doubt we would be hearing a problem with the officiating from them. I suspect that they know how hard it is to get so close and many know they may never get here again. I hope the Kings realize this also and complete the journey that only one team will make. The only real problem I have with Phoenix is with Mike Smith. He was either trying to de-limb one of the Kings, or throwing both arms in the air at his own guys after being scored on. It seems he could never accept responsibility for goals against. After his theatrics against Chicago I lost all respect and he’s only made it worse. I feel for the good guys on Phoenix, but Smith NO, and Doan not so much… Their true colors really came out in the playoffs against the best team in the league!
To me, in a way, the handshake line is definitive of this great game’s class and sportsmanship and to see that disrespected is the ultimate downer…and the fans there? You Arizona people deserve yourselves…what a total disgrace.
It was poor officiating all around. In last nights game alone Doughty was screwed 3 times (delay of game, interference and the offsides). The officials are bad, but bad in both directions. No way Browns hit deserves suspension, watch the slo-mo it was side on side, not knee on knee. Smith had an amazing series and I can understand his frustration, but too many pucks to the mask must have made him stupid to say all that BS. Hey Yotes, dont take a bad (and obvious) penalty in the offensive zone, center of the ice, when you are up two men and your season is on the line… Better team won, weaker team cried like 7 year olds after an AYSO game. I am happy that there will be another great rivalry in the west.. look out for Kings v.Yotes next year. For now, its on to the cup…GKG!
Good article. I have now dubbed them the Cryotes with their coach Tipocryte (yes he said both teams do it, but when you have a guys like Smith and Rosival diving all over the place, keep your mouth shut about embellishment), Keith Waahndle and Shane. And yes, I do think I’m very funny.
You’re just funny looking. :-)
Oh yeah, the two missed unsportsmanlike calls that should have been made. Hanzal totally snapped his head back trying to draw a high-sticking penalty that replay later showed never happened and Rozsival totally diving after a one handed stick tap from behind. The refs chose not to call penalties on the Kings on these plays having seen them for what they were (dives/embellishment, whatever) but should have called the Phoenix players for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Coyotes players clearly thought the refs are dupes.
Great read Gann…. Agree with those who have mentioned the handshake line that was terrible. The stuff being thrown on the ice was pretty disgraceful too. Kings were the better team in this series, they got beat. Simple. The circumstances leading to the game winner were tough, but that’s the game. That’s hockey. Kings players should be proud of what they’ve done so far. Next stop the FINALS.
Great read. Fwd worthy.
Well written sir. Bottom line is the Kings took it to ’em. And they played dirty from Doan’s slam of Richards on the face off to Smith’s slashing of Richards after the series ended, the Kings embarrassed and frustrated them. It’s kind of ironic that Roszival was injured not five minutes after he tried to embellish from a tap on the legs from Penner, the. Penner is the one that scores the series winner. I’d be embarrassed to be affiliated with that team after their whining…
There were quite a few missed calls on both sides. Just in Game 5 alone there were two trips on Brown that went uncalled and were even noticed by the NBC broadcast crew. Voynov throwing the puck over the glass in the defensive zone, even though he thought it was icing should have been called for delay of game. Doughty kept a puck in the offensive zone on the line and it was called offside. Doughty fell into the net and it was called delay of game. When a Phoenix player leaped over Quick his stick caught Quick’s facemask and could either have been a high stick or interference on the goalie. A Phoenix player was holding Brown down to the ice a long time after a check. I’m sure there are plenty more I’m forgetting.
The ‘Yotes have thugs…it starts with Raffi….and ends with their Goalie. Tippett was well respected in So. Cal., mostly because he was behind an excellent power play when he was an Assistant to Andy Murray. Now, he’s just a putz…The Kings kicked your arces in Game 1 and Game 2…and the series was done. Whining only embarrasses you…Congrats on that…
B-O-O H-O-O. Smith whacked Brown with his Goal Stick and no call was made and no action taken. Rozaval is a punk who got his Karma pay back from a clean hit by a clean checker. Cry me a River “Los Coyotes De Phoenix”!
There were missed calls on both sides,Horrible calls against Doughty,All the non calls against Brown!,Yotes had 3 pp in a row to start the game.Dirty play/cheap shots from Hanzal,Doan, Smith,Morris, ETC…YOTES have no room to complain!!! I am eating nothing but Doughnuts and Pancakes all the way to the Stanley Cup!!!
I’m embarrassed for the parents of these children. You’d never see this sort of thing in the NHL because those are grown men who have learned the respect for the game.
Insightful article- right on. Teams and the league, make more money the LONGER a series goes. To say that the league and the officials are out to get them is rediculous- Yandle should have been wearing an aluminum foil hat while he spouted off with his conspiracy theories! That is going to be a pretty healthy fine, I would imagine. Friends who don’t know hockey often ask me ‘why all the violent contact and checking?’ The Brown hit is exactly the answer- it sends a message and disrupts the other team. You saw the result. The more disciplined, harder working, BETTER team won the series. Simple as that. But you gotta be looking forward to the Kings Stanley Cup defense next season and the first game against the Coyotes in Phoenix! It will be like the Charlestown Chiefs are in town!
Have to comment on this article because I believe it hits the target dead on. It starts with the Coyotes and their goonery on the ice and it doesn’t get any better for them after the game is over. From slashes and near misses by their goalie to cheap shots by their captain to their disgraceful fans throwing garbage on the ice after game 5, the Coyotes have proven themselves a truly classless organization and the city of Phoenix has proven themselves unworthy of a hockey team. In all the years I’ve been watching hockey, I have NEVER seen a team pull out a conspiracy theory like the Coyotes did after they lost that series. The paranoia was running rampant in that locker room. I will agree that the Coyotes played their best in games 4 and 5, but the Kings still managed to win one of those. Instead of giving the Kings credit for basically running roughshod over them, they decide to blame everyone else for their problems. Society in a microcosm right there.
I agree. The sportsmanship Phoenix displayed was disgraceful. Take some responsibility and leave the hard feelings on the ice.
And have some f$*king class during the post-game handshake.
Same goes for the fans too, throwing stuff at guests in their building.
Thanks for writing a story on this Gann. I’m a transplanted Kings fan living in Denver, so I don’t see a lot of these faux-pas happening. It’s shameful that the local media can’t get it right or can’t even express an interest in a team that’s in a position to make some history. Hopefully, this good run gives the Kings some credibility with the press there…but, probably not.
They won’t get much more for the reasons I mentioned…
Eh, sorry, this comment was for the article on the press coverage for the Kings. I screwed up and posted here. Hey, at least I know who Drew DOUGHTY (Dow-dee) is.
You can always post your comment on that story. I can do magic on this site… :-)
Mike Smith is a big lazy whiner hypocritical super douche.
Hypocrites always complain about what they perceive as an injustice. The Coyotes were simply out hustled, out played, out muscled, and after the final whistle, out classed by the Kings. The post game ceremony was even disgraced by the fans. Unfortunately, it will take alot more positive events to erase this black mark on Phoenix sports teams.