Thursday, December 29, 2016

Constantine: The idea we go down easy . . . we're real touchy about it

Kevin Constantine, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips,
is tired of the diving talk.
(PHOTO: Everett Silvetips)
The Everett Silvertips are atop the WHL’s overall standings.
They have 56 points, at least one more than each of the other 21 teams.
They have lost only four times in regulation time; only the Regina Pats (3) are better.
Everett’s points percentage — or whatever you want to call it — is .800, behind only Regina’s .803.
Everett has allowed 73 goals in 35 games, by far the best defensive record in the WHL.
Yes, this is an awfully good hockey team.
Psst! Did you know that the Silvertips are a bunch of divers and embellishers.
Yes, that is the buzz . . . and, according to head coach Kevin Constantine, that’s the buzz among WHL referees, too. According to Constantine, too, he’s had enough of that talk.
Constantine’s bank account is $500 lighter these days. That’s how much he was fined on Wednesday after being ejected from a 5-4 OT loss to the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C., on Tuesday night.
For some reason, you won’t find Constantine’s ejection anywhere on the on-line scoresheet. But he was tossed shortly after F Dominic Zwerger was hit with a minor penalty for embellishment at 6:49 of the second period. As that penalty was being handed out, the Silvertips also were given a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, presumably because someone on the bench was being overly vocal.
At 9:46 of that second period, Constantine, on his 58th birthday, was given the ol’ heave-ho.
On Wednesday, prior to what would be a 4-1 victory over the visiting Giants, Mike Benton, the radio voice of the Silvertips, asked Constantine: “What do you recall . . . out of what eventually was an ending to a short night?”
Constantine replied: “Are you talking about when I got sent an early birthday gift of not having to work as hard?”
Constantine, who is in his second go-round with the Silvertips, paused and then continued.
“It’s passed around amongst the refs that Everett goes down easy, meaning there’s things that happen and we get knocked down, cross-checked down, hit down  ..  and we go down easy.
“It just riles me up because it’s, No. 1, not true, and, No. 2, when the refs don’t call penalties in situations where we do get illegally knocked to the ice we’re vulnerable to getting hurt. To protect the players you’re always concerned about that. In the case of the situation (Tuesday) night, that happened two or three times in the game.
“We had some legal hits that we put on . . . we got cross-checked back doing it. One of the cross-checks knocks Dominic Zwerger down to the ice and we get called for embellishment which is garbage.”
At that point, Constantine said, he tried to “communicate that to the referees.”
Constantine was Everett’s head coach for the first four seasons (2003-07) of the franchise’s existence. He then moved on, before returning prior to the 2013-14 season.
“I’ve been pretty well-behaved in Round 2 of coaching the Silvertips,” he told Benton. “I was, I think, more aggressive in dealing with the refs in Round 1.
“It’s pretty rare that I take those kinds of . . . I don’t want to take those kinds of penalties in situations . . . I don’t want to hurt our team in any way. The guys work so hard I don’t want to be the one that’s a detriment to the team.”
Constantine also told Benton that his players don’t dive or embellish; in fact, they are told not to, something that is part of the team’s disciplined approach.
“We have a great group of players that has been very coachable, very dedicated to what we’re doing and very disciplined,” Constantine said. “We take the least penalties in the league because we try to defend with legal tactics and good positioning.
“With regard to doing something that would have us take a penalty like diving or embellishing something to take a penalty, we tell our players not to do it. We don’t want those penalties to happen so our players don’t try to do that because of what we coach . . . so we’re not going to do anything that is going to put us in a penalty situation unnecessarily.
“Penalties do happen during the game . . . it’s a real touch topic with us . . . the whole idea that we go down easy . . . we’re real touchy about it.”
The Silvertips are at home to the Prince George Cougars tonight (Friday), as each team plays its third game in four nights. The Cougars are third in the overall standings, one point behind the Medicine Hat Tigers and two behind the Silvertips.
Prince George is coming off back-to-back losses to the Royals in Victoria on Tuesday and Wednesday nights; at the same time, the Silvertips split with the Giants.

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