There's no sense in pointing fingers. What happened last night is over. Phaneuf won't dress Saturday, there will be a ton of fights between fringe players, and nothing will be solved. The fact remains that Kyle Okposo is still injured and the Islanders now have to live without the services of their best forward.
We can argue forever about whose fault it was (nobody's), whether the hit was clean (it was), whether this kind of hit has any place in the pre-season (again, clean hit), or any of the other things that people are worrying about. Instead, let's look at the two facts we can draw from this.
- We have to worry about Kyle Okposo suffering from more concussions. After you have your first concussion, you're that much more likely to suffer from another one.
- After the hit, Okposo's teammates went out of their way to stand up for their fallen comrade.
As scary of a thought as the first point is, the second is far more significant. Think back to the night Mike Mottau shredded Frans Nielsen's knee. After Trent Hunter fought Mottau, nobody went after Mottau that night, nor did they do so in any of the other four times the Islanders and Devils played. Howie Rose must have mentioned it a million times down the stretch. Nobody cared. Compare that to what you saw last night. The Islanders tried to engage Phaneuf multiple times. Even though Phaneuf wouldn't take the bait - he sent in his underlings to fight those battles - it says a lot that the Islanders, even those with no chance of making the team, would try to take care of business. It shows how important Kyle Okposo is to the team and it shows how much these players truly care for one another. Most of all, it shows the progress made since last November.
All in all, it's a horrible situation, but at least Okposo is relatively okay. There's no need to dwell on it or demand revenge on March 25, 2010, which is when the Flames head to the Nassau Coliseum. And hey, we got visual proof that we have a true team this year. That's a good sign.
One last point about the hit. A few people have compared this hit to the one Doug Weight laid on Brandon Sutter last year - you know, the one that had Brent Sutter apoplectic and demanding Weight's banishment from the NHL. OK, he didn't really go that far, but he wasn't happy. Last night, when it was Okposo getting laid out, the elder Sutter was again involved, this time as the Flames' coach. Sutter's take?
"That's part of Dion's game. When he sees that open ice, Dion has to use it. It's one part of his game that makes him a unique player," said Sutter. "You never like to see anybody get hurt obviously, and it's too bad that happened, and hopefully we've been told, he's going to be okay. But Dion still can't pass up that hit".