November 19, 2009
The Denver Post's Adrian Dater tweeted and then backed off a second-hand report of a shouting match between Calgary Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf(notes) and Coach Brent Sutter after their loss against the Colorado Avalanche earlier this week. Turns out something did happen, but neither side is being candid about it.
"I'm not being ignorant, but those things happen," Sutter said, invoking the what's-said-in-the-dressing-room, stays-in-the-dressing-room defence. "It's no one else's business. It's between players and players, and players and coaches.
"Everyone cares and everyone's involved in a high level of competition, where there's a lot of emotion and intensity," Sutter added. "Those things are going to happen at different times during the year, and that's just the way it is."
"Well, to be honest with you guys, what happens in our dressing room behind closed doors is our business, whether it's coaches and players, players and players," Phaneuf told reporters on Wednesday morning. "That's all I'm going to say about that. That's the bottom line."
Phaneuf was a minus-2 with two giveaways in the game. He's a plus-3 overall with 10 points in 19, and the Flames are fifth in the West with 26 points. So one assumes the dust-up isn't part of a larger issue, but potentially focused on that game's mistakes.
Of course, it's only an assumption because Sutter and Phaneuf aren't candid about it. What was interesting in that Dater post, and in a lot of other reaction to this dust-up, was that shouting matches are "stuff that just happens, no biggie." Dater even said that he witnessed "a very loud screaming match between two Avs players in the dressing room last season and didn't write it in the paper."
Are these sorts of intense, postgame arguments non-news? Should they be kept off the public record with respect to the teams? The Calgary media asked about it well after the game; would it have reported it in a game story?
Can Sutter and Phaneuf get away with the "locker room code of silence" in a situation like this? If you're a Flames fans, do you demand they break the code? Or, as Dater and the Flames seem to agree, do you believe these incidents happen and deserve to stay private?
If nothing else, this incident allowed the Bleacher Report to publish a pretty good piece on Dater's initial breaking of this story, with the unintentionally hilarious headline (at least in the context of BR's history with Puck Daddy) of "NHL Blog Ethics 101."