Defensive or offended?

Originally Published: January 14, 2004
By Rob Parent | Special to ESPN.com

Although Jeremy Roenick's angry reaction to his one-game suspension for throwing a water bottle in the direction of referee Blaine Angus was predictable, the reaction it drew from a couple of other polar personalities was rather fascinating.

Leading the way was Flyers general manager Bob Clarke, who, despite having a top player publicly rip the NHL and its officials for two straight days, said nothing Wednesday to try to quell the storm.

"It's a pretty severe penalty," Clarke said of Roenick's suspension. "In my opinion, they're covering up the fact that the referee didn't call a penalty when a player got seven stitches in his mouth and lost a tooth. When the player got mad, the referee gave him [penalties of] two and 10 [minutes] and then the player threw a water bottle.

"It's my opinion that they encouraged the player to roll around on the ice with his hands over his face hoping to draw a penalty or go after the player who hit him. But Roenick did neither of these things. He took it like a man, like the way hockey players are supposed to take it. But the league thinks throwing a water bottle is bad for the game, I guess."

Hmmm. You think?

"To me," Clarke concluded, "it's a poor decision and way too severe for what happened."

Then there was Bryan McCabe, the colorful Maple Leafs defenseman who will try to incite Roenick into similar misconduct action when the center joins the Flyers in Toronto for the back half of this weekend's hyped home-and-home Eastern riot.

Noting that teammate Mats Sundin received a one-game suspension for a slip of the hand (and temper) that resulted in his stick shaft flying into the stands at Air Canada Centre last week, McCabe said Roenick's sentence was too lenient.

"It's a little bit of a surprise," McCabe said. "Mats got a one-game suspension for a little miscue. You can't even compare the two [incidents]. I guess when you play in the spotlight in Toronto, sometimes the league tries to make an example of you."

That said, Roenick had essentially the same thing to say ... about Philadelphia, of course.

"Let's be honest, there are referees out there who hate the Flyers," Roenick said. "Hate the way we play, hate the way we bitch, hate the way we moan and complain, so they purposely call the games against us. That is not right. So how do you expect us to react when we see blatant favoritism against us?"

Like a Leaf, perhaps?

Rob Parent of the Delaware County (Pa.) Times is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.

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