January 26, 2009
University of Michigan junior defenseman Steve Kampfer, you may recall, returned to the ice from a fractured skull he suffered when he was allegedly assaulted by former U-M football player Mike Milano late last year.
The Anaheim Ducks draft pick was playing in his 10th game of the season on Saturday night, against rival Michigan State. At the end of the contest, and with the Wolverines on their way to a win, he laid out Spartans sophomore forward Corey Tropp on a clean hit. This naturally prompted Michigan State freshman forward Andrew Conboy to slam Kampfer to the ice with a shot to the head, while Tropp slashed him in the neck with his stick:
The Michigan blog MVictors.com has a series of still images from a second video that help bring this incident some clarity. Kampfer skated off the ice on his own at Yost, but was taken to the hospital on a gurney.
The reaction to this incident has been swift and harsh; not only from the blogosphere, but from Kampfer himself.
MLive has the fallout from the incident, including word of a locker room confrontation:
University of Michigan sports information director Matt Trevor said Sunday night he wasn't sure if Kampfer was cleared to practice today. Neither Kampfer, who had been in a neck brace since mid-November and returned to action a month ago, nor his family in Jackson could be reached for comment Sunday.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether or not a man, described by Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Diane Brown as a 48-year-old from Jackson, will face charges pending a decision from the Washtenaw County prosecutor's office stemming from an incident in Michigan State's locker room. The man gained access and engaged in a physical confrontation with an unnamed player. Brown provided no further details when reached by phone Sunday night.
Tropp will be suspended a minimum of three games as a result of receiving a five-minute major penalty for slashing, two 10-minute misconducts and a double game-disqualification, per Central Collegiate Hockey Assocation rules. Conboy was charged with a double minor roughing penalty. The league could review the play and levy additional suspensions.
MGOBLOG had a bit more about the "unnamed man" that entered the locker room. See if you can guess who it was:
I sit four rows behind Steven Kampfer's parents. I know this because last night, when Steve Kampfer laid on the ice after being assaulted from behind by Andrew Conboy and then slashed in the head by Corey Tropp, one group of enraged Michigan fans was even more shocked than the rest of the crowd. Kampfer's mother went down to the State bench and started screaming. An usher came up to restrain her, and she cried out "that's my son." Another relative was looking around incredulously, crying, panicking, her hands waving in the air pointlessly. It's the kind of random motion you make when something has to be done and you're totally helpless. Kampfer's dad left, and I thought about following him.
Later Comley would relate that a Michigan fan broke into the locker room and tried to fight Tropp; multiple reports say it was him. I wish I, and about 200 students, had been there, too. But that's the difference between men and pigs like Conboy and Tropp: we weren't.
Condemnations of the Spartans players have been pouring in. The Blog That Yost Build said Conboy "has already proven to be a no-talent thug." That would be the same Conboy drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, and the little brother of the infamous Tim Conboy (a.k.a. Clownboy) of the Carolina Hurricanes organization.
Ace of Sports calls for the suspension of both players for the remainder of the season:
The CCHA will also review the incident, and hopefully will come to the same conclusion that any sane hockey fan would: this was a beyond-dirty play with intent to seriously injure an opposing player. If either Tropp or Conboy sees the ice the rest of this season it will be an embarrassment to Michigan State's program, the CCHA, and the game of hockey as a whole.
But what did Kampfer have to say? First, that his injury was likely a strained neck, and that the incident didn't aggravate old injuries from the assault. But more to the point, he told the Freep:
Kampfer said he didn't know if Tropp intentionally tried to hit him in the neck. "It's not like people didn't know I had that injury," Kampfer said. "If that was his true intention, that's uncalled for. I don't know what (Tropp) was thinking at the time. Obviously, I'm disappointed."
Kampfer watched the replays Sunday. "It's something that shouldn't have happened," Kampfer said. "It just shows the lack of sense that people have. I don't think two-handing someone over the neck when someone has had previous injuries is right or necessary."
He said it's up to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association to decide whether the players should miss more than a just the few games they're slated to miss.
It was an unconscionable attack in its brutality; the kind of snap aggression that got Chris Simon blackballed from the NHL; the sort of reckless disregard for both hockey code and human life that put Todd Bertuzzi on a years-long image rehab tour. We've seen gang beat-downs with more social etiquette than this.
Meanwhile, it's good to see Kampfer walk away from this thing. We're just not sure we can go as far as to call the kid "lucky" after the hell he's been through this season.
Thanks to Puck Daddy readers Misha and WufPirate for the tippers.