Isles remain upset at Phaneuf after hit on Okposo
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan - The backlash against Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf's hit Thursday night that left forward Kyle Okposo with a mild concussion continued Friday.
Islanders coach Scott Gordon and general manager Garth Snow were not happy that Phaneuf targeted Okposo while he was in a defenseless position.
"As we watched it, there was no question the defenseman propelled himself off his feet and hit Kyle while he was in a vulnerable position," Gordon said after watching a replay.
Snow echoed similar sentiments, saying: "I saw our player get pushed from behind and then I saw what pretty much everyone else saw, that he took advantage of Kyle in a vulnerable position.''
Okposo, who was rocked by Phaneuf's nasty open-ice hit during the second period of the Islanders' 5-4 shootout loss to Calgary, lay motionless for more than six minutes before being lifted onto a stretcher and carted off the ice. Phaneuf later defended the hit as clean.
The Islanders will follow standard protocol while handling Okposo's concussion, monitoring him over the next few days until he is symptom-free, after which he'll progress to light aerobic activity, such as riding the stationary bike.
Like Okposo's teammates, Gordon was upset that Phaneuf did not respond when he repeatedly was challenged to fight throughout the game, instead allowing his teammates to drop the gloves. "He was given every opportunity to stick up for himself and he didn't," Gordon said. "Instead, he ended up jeopardizing his teammates.''
Gordon added, "I think the admirable thing would've been to step up . . . if you're going to play like that, you live by the sword and die by the sword."
Gordon was impressed by the way his players rallied around Okposo and displayed their feelings about the play. "We don't want our opponents to think we'll tolerate that," he said.
Gordon has no problem with physical play as long as it doesn't endanger a player. "At the end of the day, you're putting not only a player's career in jeopardy but also his life," he said. "You want players to play hard and finish their checks, but at the same time, you never want your player to be put in a life-threatening situation."
Pascal Morency, who jumped the bench to go after Phaneuf, was suspended indefinitely pending further review.
Notes & quotes: Frans Nielsen will have an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee Monday and is expected to be out 4-6 weeks . . . Doug Weight and Sean Bergenheim suffered groin strains Wednesday against Edmonton and did not skate Friday.