Coyotes’ Roenick’s Return Doubtful
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) _ Just before huge Derian Hatcher of Dallas shattered Jeremy Roenick’s jaw, another Stars defenseman broke Roenick’s right thumb by slashing his hand with a stick, the Phoenix Coyotes alleged Thursday.
``I asked the league to review the slash on his hand as well, which _ absent the broken jaw _ the broken thumb would have kept Jeremy out for three to four weeks,″ general manager Bobby Smith said before the St. Louis Blues-Coyotes game.
Roenick, the Coyotes’ leading scorer, underwent surgery Thursday to repair a jaw broken in three places. Smith said Roenick would take months to recover from what he called one of the worst broken jaws he has seen.
``I suffered two jaw fracturers myself during my career,″ Smith said. ``I consider them to have been very traumatic injuries, very difficult to come back from. And the slight fractures that I suffered were not nearly as severe as what Jeremy suffered last night.″
Smith said Stars defenseman Craig Ludwig cracked Roenick on the hand with his stick a split second before the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Hatcher leaped elbow-first into Roenick’s face.
The All-Star center fell to the ice with blood coming from his mouth. He skated another shift, then left for the locker room. His jaw was dislocated and broken in three places, with eight teeth cracked or broken.
Hatcher received a five-minute boarding penalty and a game misconduct, the second penalty requiring an automatic review by the NHL.
Smith declined to say whether league director of hockey operations Colin Campbell should suspend Hatcher, but noted similarities in the case with others that drew suspensions.
``A lot of the things they’ve tried to eliminate are apparent in this incident,″ Smith said. ``A blow to the head, an injury, the retaliation factor there, the question on the extent of premeditation. I wouldn’t want to be doing Colin Campbell’s job.″
In a March 23 game in Phoenix, Roenick knocked Mike Modano, Dallas’ leading scorer, out of the game with a hit in the first period. Roenick was ejected for boarding and game misconduct, but wasn’t suspended. That incident left the Stars fuming.
Roenick, who had 24 goals and 48 assists, was replaced as the center on the first line by Robert Reichel. Third-string center Bob Corkum moved up to the second line between Rick Tocchet and Greg Adams, with Yuha Ylonen, who missed 23 of the last 25 games because of a sprained knee, as the third-line center.
``Obviously, our chemistry is blown out of the water,″ coach Jim Schoenfeld said.
Smith said he decided against recalling center Daniel Briere from the team’s AHL affiliate in Springfield, Mass., for the time being.
Phoenix has home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The former Winnipeg Jets franchise hasn’t advanced to the second round since 1987 and has been eliminated the past two seasons by Anaheim (seven games) and Detroit (six games).