Mike Greenlay has backstopped the Saskatoon Blades to a Memorial Cup Final and the Atlanta Knights to a Turner Cup, so hes used to being in the line of fire.
But at least then he wore a mask.
Thursday against St. Louis, the Wilds fifth-year FSN North color analyst broadcast the Wild-Blues game from between the benches -- the place they call Suicide Box or Ricochet Alley for the amount of flying pucks and out-of-control sticks that enter the vicinity.
Honestly, Greenlay said, I wasnt as concerned about getting hit by anything as [much as] what I was going to be able to see. When youre on a flat plane as opposed to the birds eye view, its like looking at a forest through the trees.
You gain a different appreciation for the angles these players have to make passes through. Up top, when you say, Why didnt he pass it? you dont see the three guys in between him. You dont appreciate the small space they have to make a play and the lack of time they have. Up in the press box, everything seems in slow motion.
There is tradeoff though. The different vantage made it more difficult for Greenlay to see how plays developed, but he heard the on-ice chatter, instructions from coaches and verbal jousting between benches that would have been impossible from upstairs.
For instance, while fans saw the end result of Derek Boogaard fighting D.J. King, Greenlay witnessed what precipitated it.
Doug Weight got hit in the mouth [by a puck], Greenlay said. As he went to the bench, Boogey was chirping at him. [Weight] got on the bench and was yelling back at Boogaard and then [Blues coach] Andy Murray was yelling at Boogaard.
A few shifts later, Boogaard and King are standing next to each other. So you say, Ah, two plus two equals 10 minutes of penalties.
Lemaire plays Boogie late
Usually coach Jacques Lemaire avoids playing Boogaard inside the final five minutes because if he instigates a fight, it means a one-game suspension for Boogaard and $10,000 fine for Lemaire.
However, when Lemaire spotted Los Angeles Kings tough guy Raitis Ivanans on the ice with less than four minutes left Saturday, he threw Boogaard out for insurance. After Ivanans ran Wyatt Smith, Boogaard challenged him to the fight but made certain not to drop the gloves first.
I just said [to Boogaard], Be careful, Lemaire said. I still have his check. He wrote me a check, so I keep it in case.
Carney wins bet
Defenseman Keith Carney won a bottle of wine from teammate Mark Parrish because his alma mater, Maine, beat Parrishs alma mater, St. Cloud State, in the first round of the NCAA hockey tournament.
Carney said its a shame Clarkson lost as well because Maine would have played Todd Whites alma mater in the quarterfinals.
That would have meant a second bottle of wine for my wine cellar, Carney said. I dont even have a wine cellar, but Id have to build one.
With Niklas Backstrom given the morning off Saturday, video coordinator Ian Andersen, who played goalie at St. Johns, tended goal.
Lemaire spent the skate standing on the bench heckling Andersen. Lemaires best line: There you go Ian, two in a row! Both shots hit the crossbar. ...
Branko Radivojevic has gotten much ribbing over being ignored by his Slovakian countrymen Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra on the pairs tic-tac-toe goal Thursday. Radivojevic said, laughing, I had my stick up screaming, Hey, hey, hey. What can you do?