GARRIOCH: DJ Smith not happy with treatment of Stuetzle as he misses club’s skate

Article content

DJ Smith has about had it with the shots being taken at Ottawa Senators’ center Tim Stuetzle on the ice and off the ice as well.

advertisement 2

Article content

Stuetzle didn’t participate in the club’s 35-minute skate Thursday in Columbus and the club’s head coach made no guarantees he’ll face the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena as the Senators wrap up this three-game road trip Friday night.

Though the anticipation for Saturday’s visit by the arch-rival Montreal Canadiens to the Canadian Tire Center to open the cub’s final three-game home stand is already starting to build, we’ll have to see if the 20-year-old Stuetzle will be given the green light to play this weekend.

The Senators were waiting on the result of a further examination on Stuetzle’s leg Friday in Columbus before determining whether he’d be okay. He took a couple of nasty hits in the club’s 4-3 shootout victory over the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night.

advertisement 3

Article content

Speaking to this newspaper from Columbus Thursday morning after the club’s skate, Smith is upset with a hip check by Vancouver’s Travis Dermott near center ice in the second period that went uncalled by the officials.

“Look at those hits the other night and how hard he’s getting hit? If that isn’t tripping then what is?,” Smith said.

The Senators are already without top defenseman Thomas Chabot along with forwards Colin White, Shane Pinto and Mathieu Joseph so ideally Stuetzle will be able to suit up in Columbus but Smith is frustrated.

If you stayed up late to watch Tuesday, it looked like the Canucks had decided to target Stuetzle. He took two or three big hits in the second and returned for the third but clearly wasn’t at full strength.

advertisement 4

Article content

Accused of diving by Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher after a dangerous and dirty hit from Nick Suzuki following Ottawa’s 6-3 win over the Canadiens on April 5 at the Bell Centre, Stuetzle missed two games as a result of a knee ailment but that came after he was accused of being a diver.

Suzuki apologized to Stuetzle for the knee-on-knee contact in the faceoff circle after getting out of the penalty box, but Gallagher took a swipe at the skilled youngster in a post-game press conference.

“When I was 10 years old, our coach had a rule,” said Gallagher after the game. “If you lay on the ice — we didn’t have trainers — if the coach had to come on the ice and get you, you’re too hurt to play. You had to sit for a minimum three shifts.”

“(Stuetzle is) a great player. I’ve played against him for two, three years now. More than half the games we’ve played against him, he’s laid on the ice and he’s right back out there next shift. He lays on the ice. He acts like he’s hurt. He sells the call. He’s on the ice that same power play. You know, there’s kids watching. We’re role models.

advertisement 5

Article content

“If I was a teammate of his, I’d tell him to smarten up. It’s just not a good look. Very talented player, very good player. He needs to stop laying on the ice. It’s embarrassing.”

Of course, Gallagher didn’t come off looking good when Stuetzle subsequently missed two games with a knee injury.

Since Gallagher’s accusation, Smith believes the treatment towards Stuetzle has changed and he’s not drawing the number of penalties he should be.

“First off, he’s been phenomenal and he continues to get better every day,” Smith told TSN 1200 Thursday from Columbus. “But unfair comments were made about him diving or drawing penalties so now guys are running him and penalties haven’t been called so it’s unfortunate.

“He’s a young guy that takes a lot of pride and he’s been forced to miss games with these injuries. He (didn’t) practice (Thursday) and I watched him limp around just trying to get breakfast.”

advertisement 6

Article content

Smith said Stuetzle hasn’t backed down and is trying to do whatever it takes to make plays. He’s exciting to watch and my opinion is the NHL should be doing what it takes to protect its top players, not accusing them of being fakers.

It will take Stuetzle time to earn the respect it seems.

“He’s a tough kid. Unfairly, comments were made and that opinion of him will change over the years,” Smith added on the radio. “You saw (Wednesday) night, (Alex) Ovechkin was taken down, he looked over to the referees and said, ‘That wasn’t a penalty’ and it was rescinded.

“Timmy will just continue to get better and that statement or whatever will go away.”

We’ll have to see where this goes in the next 24 hours but if there’s any risk of further injury then the Senators will sit Stuetzle down for these next two games. That decision won’t be made until Friday morning.

Smith said Stuetzle is champing at the bit to play and as long he’s not going to risk further injury, he’ll face the Jackets.

“He continues to be hit out there and for whatever reason he’s a tough kid that wants to play but I’m not going to put him in dangers’ way if he’s not 100%,” Smith said.

[email protected]

Twitter: @sungarrioch

advertisement 1


Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user follows comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your e-mail settings.

Leave a Comment