Several Islanders and coach Jack Capuano were perturbed by Stars coach Lindy Ruff’s postgame comments on Sunday, when Ruff called out Cal Clutterbuck for embellishing a hit from Dallas’ Jason Demers that drew a major for boarding and a game misconduct.
Demers hit Clutterbuck while the Islanders forward was on his knees next to the boards and Clutterbuck went to the Islanders’ dressing room for a concussion evaluation after Demers was ejected in the second period. Clutterbuck returned and scored two goals in the Islanders’ 6-5 win.
“I think the guy who got hit has a history of diving,” Ruff told The Dallas Morning News after the game. “I looked at the play, and don’t think [Demers] elbowed him, I don’t think he did anything, really. And [Clutterbuck] didn’t seem to be hurt, but he sold it pretty good. Maybe [Demers] deserved a minor penalty, that’s my take on it.”
Capuano wasn’t pleased and voiced his feelings following the Isles’ practice on Tuesday.
“He can say what he wants. Cal is one of the toughest guys I’ve coached and I’ll leave it at that,” Capuano said. “There’s not too many guys who do what Cal does — throw his body around, block shots, kill penalties. He and Matty Martin, they do it the right way. They play clean hockey, they play physical. [Ruff] can say what he wants. I don’t know if he wants to revisit those comments, but Clutterbuck does it the right way.”
Clutterbuck wasn’t thrilled either, having found out about Ruff’s comments when he got home on Sunday night. He was fined $2,000 for embellishment in January of last year but that didn’t enter into his reaction on Sunday.
“I just find it disrespectful,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of games in the league to this point, the hit itself — if anyone looks at the replay, it’s completely unnecessary. I get my head driven into the board by a knee or a thigh. I reacted to the amount of pain I was in. To embellish a hit like that, I’d have to come up with something pretty quickly while I’m in pain, so I just don’t care for the comments. That’s the road he chose.”
Added Isles captain John Tavares: “[Clutterbuck] got kneed right in the head. Don’t know why [Ruff] thought he was diving . . . I know [Ruff] was frustrated about the game if you look at the rest of his postgame comments, but Cal got kneed in the head and that’s a very sensitive topic in the league these days. If that was his player he’d be feeling a lot differently.”
Notes & quotes: Goalie Jaro Halak (upper body) was activated off injured reserve following practice on Tuesday and could play against the Caps at Barclays Center on Thursday. Halak has been out since Dec. 22. Rookie goalie Christopher Gibson was returned to Bridgeport.