Cal Clutterbuck avoided major catastrophe Thursday night when Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall jutted out his left knee and hip and connected with Clutterbuck’s left leg late in the Wild’s 3-1 victory.
Clutterbuck, who went down in a painful heap and thought his knee was kaput, has so far only been diagnosed with a thigh contusion. He can still barely put weight on the leg and left the Saddledome in Calgary today on crutches. He didn’t practice and will not play in at least Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada game against the Flames.
Clutterbuck will need to be reevaluated by Wild doctors though to make certain there’s no real damage to his knee and leg because according to the Wild, the Oilers’ x-ray machine was broken.
Because the Wild wants a right-shot winger to replace Clutterbuck against the Flames, the Wild made a prospect flip, reassigning Johan Larsson (captained Sweden to gold at world juniors in this arena) and calling back up Charlie Coyle, who played well in a recent five-game stint.
Hall, the first overall pick in the 2010 draft who also broke Jonas Brodin’s clavicle in the minors in November, had an afternoon hearing today with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. The video was being reviewed for kneeing and clipping and he has received a two-game suspension.
On the hit, Clutterbuck said, “I think it’s a little reckless. I’ve been in that situation a lot of times personally and I know there’s a fine line between milliseconds and split seconds. Personally, I probably wouldn’t put myself in that situation. But he made a decision. He was probably a little frustrated with the way the game was going. He made a decision, and here we are.”
“I don’t think it was clean,” he added.
Clutterbuck, in his fifth full season, led the NHL in hits his first three seasons and ranks 14th this season with 49 in 16 games.
For somebody so physical, he has never once been suspended, let alone fined. He has gotten two warnings in his entire career. Quite remarkable for a player that’s registered 1,347 hits.
Yet for some reason, certain media members (here’s one Edmonton Journal blog) and tons of Oilers fans talk paint Clutterbuck like he’s a renowned head/knee hunter like Matt Cooke or Raffi Torres or Darcy Tucker. They’ve tweeted to me the last 16 hours that this was karma and deserved and if “you live by the sword, you’ve got to die by the sword.”
I asked Clutterbuck about this alleged “reckless” game he plays: “I play a reckless game? Yeah, show me a reckless play that I’ve created. I don’t agree with that. That’s just people’s perception. It’s unfortunate, but I’m a big boy.”
It does seem that because of Clutterbuck’s physical nature, he does get targeted. Last year, Ryan Whitney nailed him with a blatant knee in Edmonton and got off scot-free. Clutterbuck also missed time with a charleyhorse afterward.
James Wisniewski got eight games for his head shot on Clutterbuck last year, Trevor Gillies 10 games for a head shot on Clutterbuck a few years back. Sergei Gonchar hit Clutterbuck with a head shot in Minnesota once and then-disciplinarian Colin Campbell let Gonchar off the hook by actually uttering the same rationale Oilers fans have – if you’re going to be physical, you’ve got to accept the consequences.
I guess that also means a concussion or blown-out knee?
“People don’t like getting hit. I don’t like getting hit,” Clutterbuck said. “That tends to frustrate people and when you get frustrated, you kind of do things that are maybe out of your character and you see red a little bit.
“I understand that being as physical as I am, that can cause frustration in other people and that’s part of the reason I’m effective. I’ve expected that my whole career. …
“Usually when I have the puck I’m pretty aware. When I don’t have the puck [like Thursday night], it’s obviously out of my control.”
I asked Clutterbuck how this charleyhorse compares with others he has had. Brent Burns gave him one last year after nailing him with a check a few days before the one Whitney caused (Clutterbuck essentially had left and right thigh contusions days apart last year).
“These things are so unpredictable,” he said. “I’ve had a couple that seemed really bad and they cleared up quickly and I have had some that seemed not so bad and have lingered a long time. I’m going to take it day to day.”
As for practice, everybody skated but Kyle Brodziak, who is coming off his best game of the year (five shots, great defensively). He didn’t skate because he’s coming off the flu.
The Wild is 4-1-1 in its past six and in the top-8 in the West.
Coach Mike Yeo raved about the job Ryan Suter did last night in 31-plus minutes. He called it a “clinic” and in my mind, since that gave in Phoenix earlier this month, he’s been real good. Yeo said he will come back with the same six defensemen tomorrow, so it looks like defenseman Justin Falk will be scratched, as well as center Zenon Konopka.
Niklas Backstrom vs. Joey MacDonald in goal.
I will be on Beyond the Pond on KFAN on Saturday at 10 a.m. CT.
Talk to you Saturday morning and I will update the blog once the Hall ruling comes out.
More from Star Tribune
More from Russo's Rants
The Wild signed one of its three 2014 sixth-round picks Tuesday
Assistant coach Darby Hendrickson and goalie coach Bob Mason will sign new contracts and return to the club in their same roles. Former interim coach John Torchetti has interviews lined up elsewhere.
The Wild coach, who threw out the first pitch at Thursday's Twins game, is in town for meetings with management and players.
Vay will compete with Steve Michalek and Brody Hoffman for a minor league job.
The Wild landed its top choice, a coach who led Anaheim and Washington to eight division titles.