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Columnist Ron Cook: Classless Ramsay proud of brawl, Flyers' outcome?

Sunday, April 30, 2000

PHILADELPHIA -- Craig Ramsay is the coach. He's supposed to be the smart guy. Craig Berube is the enforcer. He's supposed to be the blockhead.

 

So why did a classless Ramsay say how "proud" he was of his Philadelphia Flyers yesterday? He had to be talking about their success in an ugly 5-on-5 brawl near the end of the Penguins' 4-1 victory. He couldn't have been talking about the inept way they played hockey.

Why did Ramsay moan about a cheap shot from an unidentified Penguins player, presumably Matthew Barnaby? Why did he make a big deal about gestures Barnaby and Darius Kasparaitis directed at the Philadelphia fans, among the most vile in all of sports? Why didn't he worry about something really important?

Like trying to figure a way for the Flyers to dig out of a 2-0 hole against a team that is playing vastly superior hockey.

And why was it up to Berube to put the silliness at the end into perspective? "We were ticked off and took it out on them." Why did Berube have to come up with the solution to the Flyers' woes when asked if he thought they were spending too much attention on Barnaby, a noted agitator? "Maybe we should be paying more attention to [Jaromir] Jagr ... "

And Ron Tugnutt, for that matter.

Give the Flyers credit for winning the big fight, which resulted in 114 penalty minutes -- 30 to the Penguins and 84 to the Flyers. Kasparaitis, who always seems to be in the middle of those things, had his nose reddened and a cut near his right eye. Rene Corbet bled from gashes on his nose and forehead.

But the Penguins wore their wounds proudly. They won the only thing that mattered.

The game.

"There's no better feeling than beating this team in this building," a grinning Barnaby said.

That probably has something to do with the fans.

Remember the beer that hit Buffalo Coach Lindy Ruff in the head here during the previous playoff round?

"I'll bet I've been hit by 15 beers here," Barnaby said. "They spit at you. They throw things at you ... "

"All game, it's 'You suck. You're ugly,'" Kasparaitis said.

Added Barnaby, "It's Philadelphia, you know? I love it."

Ramsay most certainly didn't.

"Nobody should be able to taunt our fans as well as our players. They've done that, and it's not right. Taunting is incorrect behavior."

Ramsay went on to say the Flyers should be commended for their restraint for most of the game. "We fulfilled our part for as long as we could."

Please.

For sure, the Flyers didn't appreciate the gestures by Barnaby and Kasparaitis. Nobody likes having their face rubbed in it. But that didn't start the brawl. Nor did some "face wash baloney" -- Ramsay's words -- that Barnaby supposedly pulled on Rick Tocchet.

"Us leading, 4-1, is what precipitated it," Barnaby said.

"Tocchet said it was going to happen. He told us, 'Get ready. Here comes a 5 on 5.'"

The Penguins knew Tocchet was going to be a man of his word when he lined up to take a faceoff against Tyler Wright. "I mean, Tocchet at center? Give me a break. He's not exactly Adam Oates material," Barnaby said.

Tocchet went after Wright the instant the puck was dropped.

"He said something personal to me that I didn't like," Tocchet said. "I wanted to fight him, and he turtled on me. I'm sure Pittsburgh is happy about being up 2-0, but they have to be a little disappointed in Tyler Wright. He left them 4 on 5 at the end. That's not hockey."

Admit it. You loved Tocchet when he did this kind of thing when he played for the Penguins.

"I respect him for coming out and trying that," Barnaby said. "He was just trying to get his team mad us -- something, anything to change the momentum. I'd probably do the same thing for our team in that situation.

"But we're not going to be intimidated. They're a tough team, but they're not super tough. We've got some guys who can stand up for themselves."

Barnaby ended up matched against Berube, one of the NHL's roughest characters. At first, Barnaby curled up on the ice. "We didn't want to fight. No one wanted a separated shoulder or broken hand." Eventually, he got up and traded blows with Berube, actually dropping him with a left hand.

"I think I surprised him a little," Barnaby said, grinning again.

It all was pretty ridiculous.

"It's all just a game," Berube said.

That was another shrewd observation. It was obvious Barnaby's punch did no damage. It didn't even hurt Berube.

Not nearly as much as the final score, anyway.


Ron Cook can be reached at rcook@post-gazette.com.



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