If only the Sudbury Wolves were shooting the puck as well coach Paul Fixter shoots the messenger.
The Ontario Hockey League's Wolves are a rather objectionable outfit at the moment, which apparently means their coach's frusration should be vented toward journalists possessed of the quaint notion that doing their jobs involves getting reaction from both the winning and losing team following a game. Fixter, following the Wolves' 7-2 blowout loss in Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday that dropped their record to an OHL-worst 1-10-0-0, looked keyed-up, like he wanted to get gone from the Essar Centre as quickly as possible. That built up to a regrettable incident where Fixter told Peter Ruicci, a Sault Star hockey reporter, "F--- you."
The dialogue is like David Mamet crossed with Slapshot.
Ruicci: "Didn't you think a factor was the high skill that they [the Greyhounds] have?"
Fixter: "They're a very skilled team, Peter, yes."
Ruicci: "Did you think the work ethic was— "
Fixter: "Whose? Theirs or ours!"
Ruicci: "Yours. I thought you guys worked hard."
Fixter (nodding): "Good. That's good."
Ruicci: "Well, I don't know..."
Fixter: "Well, that's your opinion. We worked hard. There you go. Good for you." (raising voice) "What's the question?"
Ruicci (also raising voice): "Did you work hard?"
Fixter: "F--- you! Don't f------ talk to me like that!"
Ruicci: "How do you think you're acting towards us? All we're doing is trying to do an interview."
Fixter: "Then ask me a question."
Ruicci: "Did you work hard?"
Fixter: "Yeah, for 20 minutes, like I said to Lincoln [Loutitt, a CTV Northern Ontario reporter who asked the first questions of the media scrum]."
Ironically, Fixter's summation to the hometown Sudbury Star included the words, "We just lost our composure."
Ruicci wrote a column published Oct. 10, "Owner helping make mockery of Wolves," which addressed the team's usage of Connor Burgess, the son of owner Mark Burgess. The younger Burgess has since quit junior hockey, but seeing the word "mockery" in a headline is not the type of thing to that sits well with most hockey types. Never mind that Ruicci didn't write the headline; an editor did.
Whatever history the two men have, there is no excuse for Fixter swearing at Ruicci. It's understandable that someone with a competitive personality would be brimming with frustration over his team's fumbling (and completely foreseen) start to the season. But this is classic case of lashing out at the wrong person.
The "like I said to Lincoln," indicating CTV's Lincoln Louttit, also looks like a bullying tactic. It comes off like Fixter was trying to pull someone onside in order to make it appear like he has support for his behaviour. It would be interesting to see whether the OHL, which does suspend players for being abusive toward opponents, would see it that way.
Fixter and, by association, the Wolves organization, certainly rate a fine. A suspension might also send message.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.