Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Johan Franzen, Chris Neil Continue War of Words

 

Yeah, I know that isn’t Chris Neil. Whatever, I couldn’t find a picture with both of them.

In an exchange that has high school gossip circles salivating, Johan Franzen and Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators have been jawing at each other using the media as proxys since they played on Thursday night, and they haven’t stopped since then. Missed the game on Thursday you say? Well why don’t we start at the beginning?

You will of course recall that Johan Franzen has had concussion symptoms for quite some time now, and missed the Olympics with Team Sweden as a result. He seemed to be doing just fine in his return though, after potting three goals against the Senators Thursday night. It’s late in the third period, Franzen and Neil are on the ice.

And then this happens:

A Red Wings fan’s first reaction, as was mine, was no doubt pointing out how gutless Neil is to take shots at Franzen’s head and push Franzen’s head into the boards knowing full well he’s coming off a concussion (it can’t be news to Neil at this point). Neil claims Franzen poked him in the groin, watching the video it looks as though it could have been entirely incidental if it even happened. To be fair though, if Franzen did cheap shot Neil it wouldn’t be the first time, so maybe Neil deserves the benefit of the doubt.

One would think the a supposedly devout Christian such as Neil would turn the other cheek in such a scenario. It’s also worth pointing out that this happens with six minutes left in the third period, almost a calculated amount of time left in the game. See, Rule 46.22 of the NHL rulebook clearly states:

46.22 Fines and Suspensions – Instigator in Final Five Minutes of Regulation Time (or Anytime in Overtime) - A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five (5) minutes of regulation time or at anytime in overtime (see 46.12) shall be suspended for one game, pending a review of the incident.

When the one-game suspension is imposed, the Coach shall be fined $10,000 – a fine that will double for each subsequent incident.

Don’t get me wrong, if Franzen did cheap shot Neil he deserves everything he got and then some. There’s no place for that. But to do my best Brendan Shanahan impression, as the video shows, it’s hard to say Franzen does anything more than lightly tap Neil in a place where there should be plenty of protective equipment. Franzen may not be the cleaniest player but let’s not pretend Neil is some angel either.

Franzen wasn’t done after the duo was ejected from the game, however. Immediately following the game, Franzen had some choice words for Neil. Ansar Khan of MLive caught a couple quotes from the Swedish winger:

“He usually shows up when the game’s over and tries to be the hero, puts his cape on and goes and flies out there,” Franzen said of Neil. “He doesn’t like to take heat from fans and coaches, I think. He usually steps up when the game is over and shows everyone that he really fights hard.”

“It’s probably not the best thing to do, getting hit in the face,” Franzen said. “Maybe the ref can stop that before it happens, I don’t know. They (officials) didn’t seem to (care) that they put him out there and he tried to start things.

Franzen clearly deserves a suspension, scoring three goals and telling everyone what they already knew about Chris Neil. What a night! Neil wasn’t available for comment following the game, but wasn’t too happy with Franzen the next day. Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun was there, and Neil had this to say:

“I’m there first shift and any shift he wants,” said Neil. “He wants to drop his purse, take the lipstick out, put it on his lips and ‘Let’s go.’ Anytime. Any day. Anywhere.

“I’m 6-foot-1, 215 lbs. He’s 6-foot-4, 240 lbs. I’m giving up height. I’m giving up weight. I’m not scared of him. Bring it on.”

“I’d take my cape off if he took the yellow streak off down the middle of his back,” said Neil.

“You know that streak? It means a gutless streak,” said Neil. “When a guy comes across the blueline and pokes you in the groin with his stick in a 6-1 game and chops guys that’s a no-brainer. He’s going to get it.”

 

Neil’s actions don’t warrant a suspension, and neither do his comments. But he does deserve to be chastised publicly for his casual misogyny. When hockey fans sit around and wonder why more women aren’t involved in the game, crap like this is the reason. The implication of course being that Franzen is a woman because he doesn’t fight, and therefore carries a purse and wears lipstick. There’s a number of things wrong with this and to be frank, I find this comment to be worse than anything that happened on the ice.

Suppose Franzen was a woman. Would that be bad? Are women bad? Chris Neil seems to think so. I’m sure his mother would be disappointed by such an implication, not to mention his wife and daughter. We saw plenty of women in the Olympics of several nationalities that play hockey better than Chris Neil. Hell Jocelyn Lamoureux can even throw down with the best of them. If you’re a hockey fan that happens to be a woman and you hear garbage like this, it isn’t exactly the best invitation to get into the sport more. So remember fellas, when you wonder why you can’t find a girlfriend that appreciates hockey, this is one of the barriers.

And when’s the last time you saw a woman carrying a purse? Everyone knows clutches are in right now.

The supposedly feminine Franzen still plays hockey better than Neil, and he wanted to make sure Neil knew such a thing. He capped things off with a comment Saturday morning, again from Ansar Khan via Twitter:

“Asking me to fight is like asking Chris Neil to show good hands & hockey sense.”

Oh no he didn’t! Hopefully this puts this childish exchange to rest. Sometimes it feels like the Ottawa Senators are trying a little to hard to start a rivalry, from accusing the Wings of diving to their owner declaring the Senators would finish ahead of the Wings in the standings before the season had even started. To be fair to the Senators though, I’d be pretty upset if Detroit’s captain decided to leave to go elsewhere. Of course, I wouldn’t know what that’s like…

In case you’re wondering, the Senators and Red Wings will not meet again in the regular season this year.

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