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Hitchcock kicks off war of words
Blues coach says DeBoer is "whining"
5/16/16 - By Mike Lee -

We're only one game into the Western Conference Finals and the war of words has already begun. At least Ken Hitchcock has elected to go that route. In response to comments Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer made about referees needing to do their job, Hitchcock responded by implying that DeBoer was "whining". Pretty crafty of Hitchcock to play the referees against DeBoer, who opened that door with his comments to reporters on Monday.

DeBoer began the foray by commenting on how the Sharks need to take advantage of the Blues tendancy to take penalties.

"We know we're going to get chances on the power play on this team, one of the most penalized teams during the regular season and in the playoffs," DeBoer said before Game 1. "We know we¹re going to get looks, and we've got to cash in."

DeBoer continued to focus on the Blues, then added a nudge directed at the officiating.

"We're relying on the officials to do their job. St. Louis is one of the most penalized teams in the league, regular season and playoffs. They need to call the game accordingly. Need to make them pay a price for being the most penalized team in the power play, which we didn't last night."

When Hitchcock was asked about the comments, he countered by suggesting DeBoer was trying to milk for calls.

"What are you saying, is he whining for calls or what's he doing?" Hitchcock asked. "Well, we were told not to whine for calls, so we're not going to whine for calls. If Pete wants to do it, that's his (prerogative). But we're not doing it. I'm not sure why he's doing it, you've got to ask him that question. We're just not doing it. So, we'll play the game, we'll play it the right way, we'll play it honest, but we'll play it hard, let the refs decide. They've got to do their job. too."

"I'm not going to tell the referees how to do their job, nor am I going to tell Gary Bettman or (Colin) Campbell how to do their job. They've got a tough enough job as it is. I can barely do my job. So I'm going to do my job, and if other guys want to whine and get other people to have to work for them, that's up to them."

Speaking of the officials, a quick fact check shows that referee Eric Furlatt does not trend in favor of the Sharks. It was Furlatt who's adamant overturn of Joe Pavelski's would be game-winning goal in overtime of Game 4 of the Western Conference Semi-Final match-up between San Jose and Nashville.

So far this season, the Sharks are 1-6 when Furlatt is on the ice. That one win was a 3-0 victory over the hapless Edmonton Oilers.

Is it just coincidence that the Sharks end up on the losing end of the ledger whenever Furlatt is on the ice, or is there something else there?

Two of the Sharks losses when Furlatt is calling a game have come in the playoffs. San Jose would eventually lose Game 4 in triple overtime. Furlatt was on the ice during San Jose's 2-1 loss to the Blues in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday night.

That lends credence to DeBoer's suggestion that the on-ice officials need to do their jobs. When the game has stooped to things beard pulling (David Backes apparently wasn't paying attention in kindergarten), then perhaps the officials should try and keep the game from becoming a complete mockery.

Joe Thornton didn't seem to have an issue with Backes' antics, but he's taking the high road. Beard pulling? Backes will be throwing juice boxes from the bench before you know it.

St Louis is deflecting anything and everything away from the game. That's a good thing for the Sharks. A team in the driver's seat just sits back and lets the other team deal with the antics. Given that the Blues are the ones inciting it, the Sharks should feel good about there chances.




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