Canucks’ call-up Andrew Ebbett says AHL brawl was ‘bound to happen’
Notebook: Wolves’ bad blood with IceHogs stems from Canucks-Blackhawks rivalry
Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and David Booth congratulate goal scorer Andrew Ebbett (left) during their NHL game against the Nashville Predators last Thursday. Ebbett, who has spent much of the season with the AHL Chicago Wolves, says there was bad blood with the Rockford IceHogs.
Photograph by: Jeff Vinnick, NHLI via Getty Images
VANCOUVER — Vancouver Canucks call-up centre Andrew Ebbett was not surprised when a brawl broke out Sunday between the Canucks’ American Hockey League farm team, the Chicago Wolves, and the Rockford IceHogs, who warehouse Chicago Blackhawk prospects.
Ebbett has played 37 games for the Wolves this season and it seemed about half of those were against their Illinois state rivals. The Wolves and IceHogs actually meet 12 times and the brawl — some of it inside the IceHogs’ bench — occurred in meeting No. 11. It was also their third game against each another in eight days.
“You play Sunday, then Friday, then Sunday again and, I mean, stuff is bound to happen, especially with a little bit of that Vancouver-Chicago rivalry with the two teams,” Ebbett said Tuesday before the Canucks-St. Louis Blues tilt at Rogers Arena. “They definitely don’t like each other and it boiled over.”
The AHL wasn’t impressed and handed out four suspensions Tuesday, three to the IceHogs and just one to the Wolves. Adam Polasek, a defenceman drafted by the Canucks 145th overall in 2010, was the lone Chicago player punished as he received three games. Three IceHogs each received one game: Shawn Lalonde, Jeremy Morin and one-time Canuck Wade Brookbank. Both teams were also fined an undisclosed amount.
ZACK BACK BRIEFLY: Hulking Canuck right-winger Zack Kassian returned to the lineup against the Blues after missing two games with a sore back but didn’t last long, playing just five shifts in 2:48 of ice time. He did not return for the second period and the team did not immediately announce the reason.
Kassian fought Blues’ forward Chris Stewart just 2:41 into the game and finished with one shot on goal during his brief appearances.
At the morning skate, the 22-year-old insisted his ‘tweaked’ back was not a major problem. He said he had experienced a similar issue at the start of the Canucks’ mid-January, post-lockout training camp.
“It was just a tweak and that was pretty much it,” he explained. “There is no getting into details. It is what it is. I could probably go out and play pond hockey with it but you can’t play at an elite level like the NHL. You can’t be limited or else you’re not going to play well.”
BLUE NOTES: St. Louis right-winger Chris Stewart entered Tuesday’s game on fire, with seven points in his last three outings, the performance earning him NHL player of the week honours. Stewart also had 14 points in seven games (7-7-14) and led the Blues in scoring with 28 points. Last season, he managed just 30 points in 79 games.
“We have some gifted players on this team, that’s for sure, so I wouldn’t say I expected to be leading the team in scoring,” Stewart said. “But I knew I could contribute in this league. I’ve never second-guessed that and I’m glad the hard work is paying off.”
Stewart, 25, was drafted in the first round (18th overall) by the Colorado Avalanche in 2006 and was part of the Feb. 19, 2011 blockbuster trade that saw Kevin Shattenkirk and a second-round pick (Ty Rattie) move to the Blues for Erik Johnson, Jay McClement and a first-round pick (Duncan Siemens).
Stewart credits a weight loss and new fitness regime for his improved play.
“I probably dropped 18 to 20 pounds from the summer,” said Stewart, who was listed at 232 pounds before the diet. “I’m definitely fitter and a lot more consistent. I got a good trainer in the off-season and put in the work and I feel great every night. I also really worked on my explosiveness and my first three steps.”
WORTH REPEATING: Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault was asked at the morning skate Tuesday about his comfort level with some people calling for his head. His response? “They’re not saying that, are they? Come on. You’re making that stuff up. You’re kidding me.”
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