Hanzal Gets Off Lightly

By HOWARD BERGER

LOS ANGELES (May 17) – There has been nothing at all to celebrate on the ice for the Phoenix Coyotes in Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Western Conference final, but the club did get a break off the ice yesterday… two of them, in fact.

Big center Martin Hanzal was suspended by the National Hockey League only for tonight’s third match against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center – a rather indulgent call given Hanzal’s reckless hit from behind on L.A. captain Dustin Brown late in Tuesday’s game at Phoenix. A healthy 6-foot-6, 236 pounds, the Czech-born player was fortunate not to inflict grievous damage to Brown – listed six inches shorter and 29 pounds lighter. It was a classic example of the blind-sided check on a defenseless player near the boards that the league has been fairly successful in limiting. And while the NHL decision wasn’t ridiculous, it did come in at least a game lighter – in my view – than what Hanzal deserved.

The other announcement made yesterday by Brendan Shanahan was that Phoenix captain Shane Doan would not be suspended for his second-period leveling of Trevor Lewis that opened a gash on the forehead of the Kings player. This one I agree with as slow-motion replays clearly showed Lewis instinctively turning his back a split-second before Doan made contact – a maneuver obviously difficult to detect in real time by referees Dan O’Rourke and Chris Rooney, who excused Doan for the remainder of the match with a five-minute boarding major. 

MARTIN HANZAL OF THE COYOTES MASHES DUSTIN BROWN INTO THE END-BOARDS BEHIND TEAMMATE KEITH YANDLE ON TUESDAY NIGHT (ABOVE) AND IS QUICKLY POINTED TOWARD THE PHOENIX DRESSING ROOM (BELOW) BY LINESMAN JEAN MORIN AFTER BEING EJECTED FROM THE MATCH. (PHOTOS COURTESY GETTY IMAGES/NHL.C0M)

PHOENIX CAPTAIN SHANE DOAN (ABOVE) WILL NOT MISS TONIGHT’S THIRD GAME OF THE WESTERN FINAL HERE IN LOS ANGELES, AS THE NHL CORRECTLY DETERMINED THAT TREVOR LEWIS OF THE KINGS TURNED HIS BACK JUST BEFORE DOAN MADE CONTACT LATE IN THE SECOND PERIOD ON TUESDAY. (PHOTO COURTESY GETTY IMAGES/NHL.COM)

AIRPORT TO AIRPORT IN WESTERN FINAL…

GIVEN MY PERCH ON THE TOP FLOOR OF A HOTEL DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE SOUTH RUNWAYS OF LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, I HOPE I’LL BE ABLE TO TEAR MYSELF AWAY FOR THREE OR FOUR HOURS TONIGHT AND SUNDAY AFTERNOON. OTHERWISE, I’LL MISS GAMES 3 AND 4 OF THE KINGS-COYOTES SERIES. I COULD SIT FOR DAYS ON END AND NOT TIRE OF WATCHING PLANES TAKE OFF AND LAND; YOU’D THINK THE AMOUNT OF TIME I SPEND IN THE AIR WOULD HAVE ANNULLED THAT NOVELTY BY NOW, BUT IT HASN’T. PLEASE ENJOY MY IMAGES FROM THE PHOENIX-TO-L.A. TRIP YESTERDAY, AND THE SPLENDID SCENE BEYOND MY HOTEL BALCONY (YES, I’LL SLEEP FINE… I HAVE SILICONE EAR-PLUGS):

THE ABOVE PHOTO MAY BE THE FAVORITE AMONG ALL I’VE SNAPPED WITH MY TRUSTY NIKON THIS HOCKEY SEASON: FROM THE WINDOW OF MY USAirways JET AFTER LANDING AT L-A-X YESTERDAY, A JAPAN AIRLINES BOEING-777 LIFTS OFF FROM RUNWAY 25-R.

MOMENTS AFTER DEPARTING FROM SKY HARBOR AIRPORT IN PHOENIX YESTERDAY, I TOOK THIS PHOTO (ABOVE) OF THE SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX IN SUBURBAN GLENDALE, WHICH SHOWS YOU HOW ISOLATED IT IS. THE UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX FOOTBALL STADIUM (HOME OF THE NFL CARDINALS) DOMINATES THE CLUSTER OF BUILDINGS. BEYOND THE STADIUM IS THE RENAISSANCE HOTEL (TO THE LEFT) AND THE COYOTES’ HOME – JOBING.COM ARENA – NEXT DOOR. BEHIND THE ARENA IS THE WESTGATE SHOPPING AND RESTAURANT PLAZA. ROAD TO THE LEFT IN PHOTO IS THE 101-LOOP, WHICH LEADS NORTH INTO GLENDALE FROM INTERSTATE-10.

ON APPROACH TO L-A-X (ROUGHLY 10 MINUTES BEFORE LANDING), WE FLEW PAST AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY IN FONTANA, CALIF. – SITE OF THE AUTO CLUB 400 NASCAR RACE HELD ON MAR. 25 OF THIS YEAR (WON BY TONY STEWART). IT WAS AT THIS FACILITY, STILL KNOWN AS CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY, THAT DRIVER GREG MOORE OF MAPLE RIDGE, B.C. WAS KILLED DURING THE MARLBORO 500 INDY-CAR RACE ON OCT. 31, 1999. MOORE LOST CONTROL ON THE BACK-STRETCH OF THE RACEWAY AND PERISHED AT 24 YEARS OF AGE. THE TRACK IS CLOSE TO THE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IN ONTARIO, CALIF. (RUNWAYS AND NAME BELOW).

BUILDINGS OF DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (ABOVE), BENEATH SEVERAL LAYERS OF SMOG.

THE HARBOR FREEWAY (ABOVE), WHICH LEADS NORTH INTO DOWNTOWN L.A. FROM THE PORT OF LOS ANGELES IN SAN PEDRO, CALIF., NEAR LONG BEACH. 

JUST BEFORE LANDING AT L-A-X, WE FLEW PAST HOLLYWOOD PARK RACETRACK AND THE ADJACENT FORUM (ABOVE AND BELOW) IN INGLEWOOD, CALIF. THE FORUM WAS BUILT BY CANADIAN ENTREPRENEUR JACK KENT COOKE IN 1967 FOR HIS EXPANSION HOCKEY TEAM – THE LOS ANGELES KINGS – WHICH CALLED THE ARENA HOME UNTIL MOVING DOWNTOWN TO THE STAPLES CENTER FOR THE 1999-2000 NHL SEASON. THE NBA LAKERS ALSO PLAYED AT THE FORUM FROM 1967-99. AT UPPER-LEFT IN THE ABOVE PHOTO IS A JETLINER ABOUT TO LAND ON THE NORTH RUNWAY AT L-A-X.   

ON MY FLIGHT HERE YESTERDAY WERE THE TELEVISION VOICES OF THE WESTERN CONFERENCE FINAL (LEFT TO RIGHT, ABOVE): CHRIS CUTHBERT OF TSN AND DAVE STRADER OF THE NBC SPORTS NETWORK. GAME 3 TONIGHT WILL BE TSN’s FINAL HOCKEY TELECAST OF THE SEASON; CBC AND HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA (WITH BOB COLE CALLING THE PLAY) TAKES OVER FOR AT LEAST GAME 4 ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON.

FROM MY HOTEL BALCONY…

THE LARGEST AIRCRAFT IN THE WORLD COME INTO LOS ANGELES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT EACH DAY – AND FROM ALL REGIONS OF THE PLANET.

CAN’T BEAT THE ABOVE VIEW OF DEPARTING PLANES AT L-A-X.

JETLINERS LEAVING LOS ANGELES (ABOVE AND BELOW) DURING A TYPICALLY GOLDEN CALIFORNIA SUNSET LATE YESTERDAY.

 

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