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Despite feeling like a ‘bag of garbage,’ Kaleta sticks up for himself

Mar 4, 2013, 2:47 PM EDT

Patrick Kaleta Getty Images

Facing a suspension for his crosscheck from behind on Rangers forward Brad Richards, Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta admitted today that he felt like a “bag of garbage” for putting his team in a bad spot, but he’s not willing to accept the accusation that he can’t be an honest player.

“I have changed my game. I know I have,” said Kaleta (audio), “and I know players have seen that, and even referees have come up and said, ‘Hey, I respect what you’ve done so far, and as long as you keep showing that respect towards us, then we’ll respect you.’ I loved hearing that, knowing that they’ve seen a change in my game. So I know I’ve changed my game.”

When asked if he had a message for Richards, Kaleta paused before saying, “I’m fine for right now.”

In July, the Sabres gave Kaleta a new three-year contract, at which point general manager Darcy Regier praised the 26-year-0ld for the “growth in his game.”

“I think at times he was probably guilty of being reckless, not for personal gain, usually for team gain, taking his hands in front of shots, stuff like that,” said Regier. “He’s learning how to adapt to the rules, how to become more valuable for the team. He’s a very good penalty killer. He’s a fearless player. He’s a tough player to play against, and I think you’ll really see his game grow over the next few years.”

Related: Tortorella calls Kaleta’s check ‘one of the most dangerous hits I’ve ever seen’

  1. bcisleman - Mar 4, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    There has been a LOT of hype about this hit. Yes, he deserved a major and probably a suspension too. And, yes, Kaleta is the kind of player fans of opposing teams love to hate. BUT, the hit was NOT that horrible. I have seen a lot worse not even get called. Dion Phaneuf laid a very similar hit on John Tavares earlier this year and was not called for it at all or suspended. Phaneuf made an even worse hit on JT in 2011 and was, in fact, celebrated for it on NHL.COM the next day…”Meet Mr. Phaneuf”. There is a LOT of hypocrisy in this league and it gets VERY tiresome!

    • themohel - Mar 4, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      I thought this was a dangerous hit because of the position Richards was in when it was made – there was a chance of a serious neck injury. But I agree that the hit was not very hard, so I don’t think he had the same intent as the guy on the Flyers.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Mar 4, 2013 at 3:30 PM

        You can’t compare the Harry Z hit and this hit. They’re totally different. Both reckless plays but how can you truly determine the intent of a player? Only that player knows what’s going through his head. Was Z trying to injure Lundin? I don’t think so, bc the hit probably would’ve been clean if he hadn’t left his feet and launched himself. Was Kaleta trying to injure Richards? I don’t think so, but still you shouldn’t cross check someone in the back, especially so close to the boards. Both dangerous plays but it’s comparing apples to oranges.

  2. cruuuzcontrol - Mar 4, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    It may not have looked all that “horrible” compared to violent player-on-player collisions of the past… But it was certainly dangerous and quite reckless and unnecessary

  3. jkay1818 - Mar 4, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    The problem is, there is no need for it. What good can come out of cross checking someone from behind when they have that distance to the boards? He lost an edge, he went smashing in, that’s all it takes.
    I can’t fathom why people keep saying he “dove” into the boards. who would do that for a penalty and risk separating a shoulder or breaking his neck. The kid from BU who snapped his neck went in on a similar fashion. He’s very lucky to have come out uninjured but it could have been a disaster. He might have cleaned his act up kaleta but it’s sort of like the boy who cried wolf, a player like that is always capable of doing something like that, where as a player with a clean history wouldnt even think about pushing someone like that from behind. it;s just dumb.

  4. 950003cups - Mar 4, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    Richards was laying on the ground crying like a guy who snapped a collar bone in half. He was shown ON TV smirking on the bench about it 2 minutes later. So in that time, it’s not likely he even took off his equipment (unless he has some special one click system) got back out on the bench, and knew he snookered the refs. It’ll come out later. With the pain he was portraying, one would have to expect that the trainers would take a nice thorough look for more than 30 seconds.

    It seems more likely that as soon as Richards went inside the to get looked at, he was not in any pain at all. Did the referee give him a cortisone shot while he was laying down?

    The proof shows that he embellished the pain in order to extract a 5 minute major.

    Bad hockey by the Rangers. Bad job by torts for getting involved in a fraudulent act by Richards by calling it “One of the worst hits I’ve ever seen” One poster pointed out that it wasn’t even the WORST HIT IN THAT GAME. The boarding in OT by Girardi on Ennis was WAY worse of a hit.

    I used to like Torts, but he’s really starting to ware out his welcome by even his own fans.

    • jms2899 - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:40 PM

      Ridiculous comment. He should have popped right up after being checked unexpectedly into the boards. You have no clue what you are talking about.

      • 950003cups - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:03 PM

        No it’s better to act like you were hit by a mortar, then AFTER the 5 Minute Major, you come back out and giggle your butt off. Right, that’s NOT what happened. Sure.

        What you said is EXTREMELY ridiculous. We all know it deserved a penalty. YES. But Richards is outright guilty for faking the pain. Anyone who says otherwise didn’t see the play or is simply watching through ranger goggles. The TV cameras nailed him giggling about it on the bench. He was looked at for 2 minutes at most and sent back out on the ice. What more do you want?

  5. jb8383 - Mar 4, 2013 at 4:42 PM

    I think this had the potential to be a really nasty hit, but it actually wasn’t, and as other people have pointed out, Richards was back on the bench after like 2 minutes and shown on TV smiling, so I don’t think Kaleta should get suspended. The other night against Buffalo, Kovy got cross-checked in the back and knocked down pretty hard, not by Kaleta and not into the boards like this hit, but the refs didn’t even call a penalty. The refs and the league need to be more consistent with these calls. It’s frustrating.

  6. mrpigs - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    How the hell is he faking pain??? Guy went head/shoulder first into the boards!!! And crumpled like tin foil! Why couldn’t the guy have a stinger? So when NFL players go out for 1 play after being walked off the field by trainers are they faking too? Btw Richards missed practice today, can’t imagine he feels all that great after that fake injury.

    • wez99 - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:32 PM

      maintenance day?? ever hear of that? not to mention the “pain” he was in by a not so hard of a hit looked like he would of had a broken collarbone. if it was a “stinger” he wouldn’t have been back within 2 minutes or laughing much later. it was clearly a fake injury to get the double minor, lucky for him it was kaleta playing hard that made the hit which became an automatic 5. now if ennis stayed down and was crying like richards, (i believe it was giradi) would of been given a 4 min penalty because ennis would of been on the ground with trainers around him. i just love tortz comments though haha, guy cries 24/7 even after his own player committed the same penalty.

  7. pwilson264 - Mar 4, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    I think all hits from behind which hurls a player dangerously into the boards, which could end a players career has to stop. hits are all part of the game and we all like those hard nose checks, but there’s a big difference a good clean check and a career ending one. am not just picking on Kaleta, because all teams have those players who take the hitting a little to far. but it needs to stop.

  8. buffalomafia - Mar 4, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    Kaleta wants to fight Simmons from Philly!

    • DonkeyStick - Mar 4, 2013 at 9:31 PM

      If you’re going to make a stupid comment at least spell “Simmonds” name correct.

  9. angelheartsbuckeyes - Mar 4, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    Not excusing what Kaleta did, but Richards was back out on the ice after a few minutes. None of us can say what intent was behind the hit, but honestly, it wasn’t that hard. I know on ice a small shove can have big consequences, but if Kaleta was being ruthless Richards would not have been smiling and giggling on the bench immedidately afterwards.

    Not worth five games. Was barely worth five minutes.

  10. basedrum777 - Mar 5, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    I’ve been thinking about this as if my team’s player was on either side. I would say I think Kaleta probably deserved the 5min/match penalty but no suspension. Reason being, he made a boneheaded decision which lasted all of 2 seconds and checked the Ranger into the boards. But will suspending him make him any more or less likely to commit it again? I don’t think so. His other “suspensions” were for completely different situations and were a few years ago (I believe).

    Side note: Torts needs to STFU. He complains about every friggin call like he’s trying to win an Emmy. He’s going to get one for best comedic performance unless he starts also calling out his own players for terrible hits. The boarding hit to end the game could’ve been just as dangerous in theory.

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