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On Hockey Players Getting Punched in the Face

Avery and Erskine, making friends. (By Bruce Bennett - Getty)

Early in last night's game, Sean Avery swatted John Erskine in the face. Erskine laughed and didn't respond. Avery was sent to the penalty box. Erskine skated to the bench and the Caps went on the power play. Reactions?

"You know what, I think John Erskine did a great job," Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau said today. "This is what the playoffs are all about, is being able to do that. I mean, [Avery] had a glove on. It hurts, but it doesn't hurt THAT much. You've got to be able to do that."

So, does getting punched in the face by a hockey player wearing a glove hurt or not?

"Oh yeah," Matt Bradley said. "You want me to punch you in the face with my glove on?" he offered. I declined.

"That one was a pretty good shot," Bradley said. "I'm sure Ersk felt that. And it's a testament to him not doing anything. It's pretty hard when a guy punches you that hard in the face not to do anything. But in the playoffs, that's what you've got to do to win....Any time you can draw a penalty in the playoffs and give your team an opportunity to score a goal, it's a big plus for the team."

As for Erskine, he said he was just doing his job. Which sometimes includes getting punched in the face.

"It's a playoff game, a big game for us, and you've got to take those punches in the face and not retaliate," he said.

Yeah, but did it hurt?

"That punch didn't hurt," he said. "It wasn't much of a punch anyways. Last night I laughed about it. It didn't faze me too much."

Later in the game, Avery also swatted Simeon Varlamov in the face after jawing him up pretty good. I didn't have a chance to ask the Czarlamov (thanks J.P.!) whether that one hurt, but there were plenty of quips about the jawing. Since the kid won't address the media without an interpreter, the least Avery could do is wait until a Russian player is in the vicinity before attempting to chirp Varlamov's ear off.

"I wasn't sure what kind of words were exchanged," Erskine said, "but I don't think Varly understood him anyway."

"I don't know if he knows Avery well enough to know that that's his schtick," Boudreau said. "I don't know if he knows who Sean Avery is. I don't mean that with disrespect to Sean, because he's well-publicized, but quite frankly I don't know how much Varly reads the papers or pays attention to any of this stuff. He pays attention to just doing what he does and stopping pucks. In five years when he knows English really well and he knows the league really well, then maybe he'll pay more attention. Yet again, he might know everything about him. I don't know. I'm guessing as much as you are."

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 21, 2009; 2:18 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Next: Varlamov Teaches Russian to the Caps: Video


Dan- do you really buy Bruce's aloofness about his russian players...he's used this with semin before where he publically acknowledges he has no idea what these guys know or think sice they aren't native speakers. It seems like both guys know a lot more english than they let on, and I would think Bruce is aware that. Think its just a media ploy?

Posted by: bakerd1 | April 21, 2009 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Tarik would have a better sense. I think it's more likely to be true in this case than with Semin, since the goalies tend to keep to themselves/their goalie coach more, and since Varly has spent so little time in DC. Ovechkin definitely was the one who told Varly yesterday he was playing, and Bruce has said several times yesterday and today that he didn't say anything to the kid before the game.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | April 21, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Dan: So, does getting punched in the face by a hockey player wearing a glove hurt or not?

Matt Bradley: Oh yeah, you want me to punch you in the face with my glove on?

Dan: Not in the face, its how I make my living.

Posted by: alex35332 | April 21, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"I didn't have a chance to ask the Czarlamov whether that one hurt, but there were plenty of quips about the jawing."

H/T Japers?

Posted by: Section117 | April 21, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Enough with the end of game polls and video clip narratives, you want the Washington Post to be more interactive, let Bradley punch you, Tarik, and Wise in the face and let us vote on who best takes it like a hockey player.

That's interactive!

Posted by: stormblue | April 21, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

And that is one of the many reasons why I love Brads.

(Not because he offered to punch you, Dan, but because of his sense of humor).

Posted by: CapsChick | April 22, 2009 6:33 AM | Report abuse

@stormblue -

You, my friend, should be hired IMMEDIATELY as the Sport's editor for That's the best f'ing idea for an interactive sports page I've ever heard!! POST IT AND LET'S VOTE!!

Posted by: VeloStrummer | April 22, 2009 9:10 AM | Report abuse

I'm sure Varly understood some of Avery's chatter, and well understood the intent. But the passive reaction of "don't know don't care" is the perfect way to agitate the agitator. Avery can take anything except being ignored.

Posted by: farmgirl19C | April 22, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

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