Clowe: 'I'd like to think I play the game the right way'
Ryane Clowe forfeits more than $39,000 in salary with the two-game ban. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN JOSE – The NHL on Monday handed Ryane Clowe a two-game suspension, after the forward came off of the bench to go after Chicago’s Andrew Shaw on Friday at the United Center.
Clowe, who has never previously been suspended in his eight-year NHL career, will miss Tuesday’s game against Colorado but can return on Thursday against Detroit. Since he did not play on Saturday in Dallas, Clowe gets credit for time served.
The NHL ruled that Clowe came on the ice on a legal line change, but immediately started an altercation with Chicago’s Shaw, who had just hit Sharks forward Joe Pavelski from behind. That is a violation of NHL rule 70.2, which states, in part: "A player who has entered play while play is in progress from his own players’ bench…who starts an altercation may be subject to discipline.”
Clowe forfeits more than $39,000 in salary with the two-game ban.
On Monday morning, Clowe took part in a conference call with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan to plead his case. Sharks head coach Todd McLellan and general manager Doug Wilson were also on the call.
“We dealt with the league. We told them what we believed happened in that situation, and they gather all the information they can to come up with a decision we have to live with,” McLellan said, before learning of the league’s verdict.
“There are rules in the game for a reason, that’s to protect players and make sure that people don’t cross the line and injure anybody, but I don’t think this had anything to do with really any of that. Nobody was hurt, there was a scrum he attended, and that’s where it ended.”
The fact that Clowe had never been suspended before likely played a large role in his less-than-severe punishment, as leaving the bench illegally to start a fight carries an automatic 10-game ban. Many, including NBC Sports Network analyst Keith Jones, thought Clowe would get the maximum punishment.
“When I went into that scrum, I didn’t throw any punches,” Clowe said. “I don’t sucker punch guys. I don’t think I hit guys blindsided or from behind, nothing like that intentionally.
“I’d like to think I play the game the right way, play the game physical, fight, stick up for my teammates. I’m going to go to your face and let you know straight up if something is wrong, and not [by] doing anything cheap.”
Shaw leveled Pavelski directly in front of the Sharks' bench in the final minute of Chicago’s 2-1 win, earning a boarding minor. Clowe hopped over the boards and immediately went after Shaw, who was leaving the ice. Clowe was issued a two-minute roughing penalty and a 10-minute misconduct at 19:51, and suspended indefinitely the next day.
Earlier this season, Clowe was kicked out of a game against Vancouver late in the second period. He was whistled for a high-sticking minor and threw a tantrum in the penalty box, slamming his stick repeatedly against the glass, and earning another minor and a game misconduct.
His fiery demeanor isn’t going to change any time soon, and that’s just fine with one of his regular linemates.
“Clowie is a guy that will stick up for anyone on his team and do whatever it takes for a teammate,” Logan Couture said. “Pavs got hit from behind on a dirty hit, and he was there to protect him. That’s my point on the play. If you’re going to hit someone dirty, it’s always good to have a teammate that will be there to defend you, and Clowie has done that for four years since I’ve been here. There’s no wrong in that.”
The punishment puts a bit of an exclamation point on Clowe’s disappointing season so far. In 16 games, Clowe has six assists but has yet to score a goal, and his 68 penalty minutes is third in the league. The 30-year-old winger is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Clowe is tied for fifth on the team with 36 shots on goal, and both he and McLellan think his play is coming around.
“I thought it was starting to improve as the year went on,” McLellan said. “He started to skate. Big men, with the lockout and lack of training camp, takes them a little while longer to get their bodies going. He was really starting to skate and drive the puck to the net, rather than pull up all the time.”
Clowe said: “I have yet to score a goal, but the last few games I was starting to come in a bit to where I needed to be. I missed a few open nets which sucks, but it felt like the game was getting there.”
Clowe is still able to practice, and skated at Sharks Ice on Monday on a line with Joe Thornton and Logan Couture. The Sharks may have to recall someone from Worcester to take his place on Tuesday, as Marty Havlat and Tommy Wingels are questionable.