Manning: Hit was clean, but glad to see MacLeod improving 2/19
Manning was given a seven-game suspension for a hit he placed on Kamloops Blazers defenseman Austin Madaisky, which led to the Blue Jackets prospect missing the rest of the season with a fractured vertebrae.
That hit, like the one he had just laid on MacLeod, was without the intention of malice. Manning and Madaisky bumped each other, and the latter fell awkwardly into the boards. Madaisky was kicking and screaming. Now, here were trainers and emergency medical responders huddled around MacLeod, who had moments earlier suddenly collapsed to the ice and started convulsing after Manning boarded him, earning Manning a two-minute penalty.
“That was kind of my first thing, ‘Here we go again.’ You don’t want to be targeted as that player, because the same thing happened Friday night,” Manning said after the Phantoms practiced Tuesday morning.
On Friday, Albany Devils winger Mattias Tedenby was inadvertently cut by Manning’s skate after the defenseman lost his balance. His leg kicked up and caught Tedenby in the face, which sent the Swede to a Glens Falls-area hospital, where he needed plastic surgery. Again, it was unintentional. Still, the guilty thoughts were there.
“Initially, you just feel that guilt and it kinds of runs through your head,” Manning said. “‘Am I a dirty hockey player? Is this the way I play?’”
For Manning, though, there were voices of reason that helped calm his nerves. As the teams headed to their locker rooms for the second intermission, Springfield defenseman Nick Holden, Manning’s captain during his early junior days, approached him as the Phantoms defenseman came out of the penalty box.
“He waited for me and just kind of told me ‘Don’t worry about it, we understand,’” Manning said after Tuesday’s practice. “I told him ‘Hey, just make sure the guys know that I didn’t do it on purpose.’”
After the game was suspended and the Phantoms prepared to board the bus home to Glens Falls, Holden waited for Manning. There, they talked about Holden’s wife, his kid, and Holden’s recent time in the NHL.
“It was kind of nice to have a guy that I respect like that and was good to me when I was a kid in junior to be there for me and just ease my mind a little bit,” Manning said.
Once on the bus, Manning logged onto his Twitter page and sent out two Tweets, which later widely circulated on hockey blogs around the Internet. “would like to give my best to Wade MacLeod and his family. never had any intention of ever hurting another player,” the defenseman wrote. “hope for a speedy recovery and see him back on the ice soon. thoughts and prayers to him and his family.”
MacLeod wrote back the next day, thanking the Phantoms organization for their support. MacLeod wrote the hit “was a play that is made many times throughout a hockey game. The result here was unfortunate but I am feeling much better.”
That was the sentiment Phantoms coach Terry Murray said he received late Sunday from the Columbus Blue Jackets organization. They called and offered their thanks to the Phantoms, particularly trainer Greg Lowden, who immediately hopped off the bench to come to MacLeod’s aid. The Blue Jackets also thanked the Phantoms players, Murray said, for their compassion about the injury. Above all, they had a request.
“They clearly wanted me to pass a message along to Brandon that they viewed the hit and they see it as a hockey play only,” Murray said. “It’s a play that happens all the time in a game and it’s just unfortunate things happened this time.”
Manning said, given the fast-paced nature of the sport, he was surprised players don’t suffer such serious injuries more frequently. But he also said he does not think the incident Sunday will change the way he plays the game, or make him think twice about finishing one of his checks.
“I was through it before,” he said, referring to his junior incident. “And that’s the way I play. I don’t really know how to put it. It’s not like I don’t feel guilty, but I’ve watched it and I don’t even think there should have been a penalty on the play. It’s kind of hard to use words like that in a situation like that, but I’m not going to change my game. That’s what’s gotten me to where I am and that’s what makes me successful. That’s what the Philadelphia Flyers like in me. I think it’s a little different when maybe we play the same team or, like I said, going back into that rink. I might have second thoughts, but I can’t get away from that because that’s what makes me Brandon Manning as a hockey player.”
Brandon Manning the human, though, could not help but feel concern as he sat in the penalty box.
“You see the panic right away, people running to grab a stretcher and the rink goes quiet," Manning said. "You hope it’s nothing too serious. I wouldn’t say he’s lucky to have that happen, but it could have been a lot worse. I think he’s been released from the hospital (ed. Note, he has). He’s doing well now. I’ve seen instances in hockey and in sports that have been 100 times worse than that. He’s doing good now and hopefully he can continue to do better and come back to playing hockey.” Until next time, MC