A Season on the Rink

A tumultuous year inside the crucible that is the National Hockey League

Whatever does happen with the Coyotes, Schoenfeld says he'll never write a tell-all book about his myriad NHL experiences.

"But if I do write one," he explains, "it will be about the guys who I define as hockey men. Rick Tocchet is a man. [Ex-players] Dale Hunter, Tim Horton, Terry Riley, Patrick Sundstrom--they were hockey men. To me, growing up as a young Canadian wanting to be a hockey player, the ideal player was a combination of skill, courage, determination, commitment, the type of guy who would put himself on the line."

He may say he doesn't care if he gets fired, but he certainly cares about his reputation.

"I have players from long ago who still stay in touch with me," Schoenfeld explains. "That's when you know, maybe you're not quite as big a shitbomb as everybody says I am right now."

Stars at Coyotes
April 17, 1999
The referees set the tone 13 seconds after the opening face-off, calling a rinky-dink penalty on Rick Tocchet.

The last game of the regular season is meaningless in the standings, but it has a playoff feel, because of the Jeremy Roenick incident of just three days earlier.

Shortly before the game, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announces that the league has suspended Derian Hatcher for seven games. The punishment will include the Stars' first five playoff games, assuming they don't get swept in four by the lowly Edmonton Oilers.

Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock is playing it smart, resting his top players for the afternoon.

Dozens of handmade posters dot the arena, all in the mold of one held up by a little blond girl: "WE WANT #97 BLOOD!"

That's Roenick's number, of course.
The crowd is feral, and so are several of the players, including the Stars' feisty goalie Ed Belfour and the Coyotes' Keith Tkachuk, who fight in the second period.

For sure, everyone is testy, on and off the ice, and not just with the opposition.

Tocchet screams at his teammate Oleg Tverdovsky as the pair skate off the ice after a shift. The 22-year-old makes the mistake of continuing the dialogue from about four players away on the bench. Tocchet pokes at him briefly with his stick, then turns back to the game.

Roenick is in attendance, his swollen mouth numbed by painkillers. Wearing a dark suit, he spends a little time between periods up in the Dog Pound with the Coyotes' version of the Cubs' "Bleacher Bums."

They love him. A few minutes later, he refers dryly to his "split-second ordeal. I got slashed and I got hit--it was a tough little sequence for me."

The Coyotes win 2-0, breaking a five-game losing streak.
Note: If Phoenix somehow beats the Blues in the first-round and, as expected, Dallas beats Edmonton, the teams will meet in the second round.

Derian Hatcher will be available.
J.R. won't.

Contact Paul Rubin at his online address: prubin@newtimes.com

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