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Brian January 25th, 2009 at 3:56 PM

I tried not to write this post exactly like this. I waited, and tried not to go completely nuclear.

I sit four rows behind Steven Kampfer's parents. I know this because last night, when Steve Kampfer laid on the ice after being assaulted from behind by Andrew Conboy and then slashed in the head by Corey Tropp, one group of enraged Michigan fans was even more shocked than the rest of the crowd. Kampfer's mother went down to the State bench and started screaming. An usher came up to restrain her, and she cried out "that's my son." Another relative was looking around incredulously, crying, panicking, her hands waving in the air pointlessly. It's the kind of random motion you make when something has to be done and you're totally helpless. Kampfer's dad left, and I thought about following him.

Later Comley would relate that a Michigan fan broke into the locker room and tried to fight Tropp; multiple reports say it was him. I wish I, and about 200 students, had been there, too. But that's the difference between men and pigs like Conboy and Tropp: we weren't.

I thought maybe I'd be less livid after sleeping on it. I'm not. What happened last night was the most disgraceful thing I've ever seen at a sporting event, and if either of those two animals ever plays against Michigan again I'll be hoping they break their necks. That is not a kind or noble or understanding thing to say, but it's true. That was disgusting. Both should be kicked out of the CCHA, period.

Someone who should also be gone: Kevin Hall. Hall watched Conboy pull all sorts of crap, including punching Tristin Llewellyn in the face as he looked at it directly, and didn't put a stop to it. Given the opportunity to boot him off the ice with a ten minute misconduct for unsportsmanlike, he instead turned it into a minor and let Conboy loose with under a minute left. He lost control of the game. He's an idiot. He should be fired.

And let's not exonerate Comley here. He recruited Conboy and knew exactly what he was getting. Conboy's older brother was booted out of SCSU for anger management issues (side note: how big of a prick must their father be? I can only imagine) and he racked up huge penalty totals across three years of juniors. He's their leading PIM guy this year, and the announcers in the above clip euphemistically call him State's "police/enforcer," by which they mean talentless thug. During the game it became clearer and clearer that Conboy was just looking for heads to add to the wall, but Comley kept throwing him out there. Down two goals with under ten minutes on the clock, Comley went to a guy with five points on the season.

Then Comley managed to impugn a couple of Michigan players' class for talking crap to him after all this in the postgame presser. You can say whatever you want about how nice a guy he is and what an ambassador for the game he is, but that's pathetic. That's someone in denial about what happened and his role in it.

As for Tropp: a two-handed slash to the head of a prone, motionless player should be cause for ejection from the team, expulsion from school, and criminal charges. I hope the Kampfer family presses charges, and I look forward to seeing Tropp's arrest for meth addiction in my local electronic newspaper in 15 years.

Update: MVictors has frame-by-frame stuff on the incident; Yost Built also has a right-on take. On review, the Tropp thing is even more unbelievable: you can watch him cock his stick, see Kampfer is prone on the ground, and then wait for a better shot.

Update II: Impartial Wisconsin fan and former UMD announcer Bruce Ciskie at Fanhouse:

Oh, and [Tropp] slashed a player who was probably unconscious at the time. There's a special place in hockey hell for people like that.

(HT: Ace of Sports.)

Comments

AnthonyC

January 25th, 2009 at 4:09 PM ^

I've seen some messed up stuff in my years around hockey but that was the worst I've ever seen live. Only a few incidents in the NHL rival it (Mcsorley, Bertuzzi, Simon). Unreal.

The scene in there was tense, and thinking about it the next day I wonder how close we could have been to something like the Palace incident, had others gone to the MSU locker room.

Luckily Red didn't have the boys retaliate on the ice in the 5 on 3, and he even had the class to insist the handshakes still take place. Just think about what could have happened if he had a goon go out there or if he recruited similar scum to what Comley brought to MSU.

"Fuck you, State" was the worst they got last night, but they really aren't worth more than that, anyways.

Wolverine318

January 25th, 2009 at 5:24 PM ^

Agreed. Apparently my seats at Yost are next to Brian's as I am about a couple rows above Kampfer's parents too. The atmosphere started to tense up after FYS got those two BS goals in the 2nd. Then the scrum with turnbull and gentille in the FYS net set the fuse for the powder keg.

When the incident occurred my wife and I were incredulous. I saw Conboy sucker punch Kampfer and then Tropp use his stick like an axe. I was chanting F Y S with the rest of the students. The chant would have ended with the lets go blue cheer, but then the FYS hockey parents started flipping off the student section. By that point all rules were off.

We were lucky some students did not join Mr. Kampfer at the FYS locker room. It would have rivaled the palace incident. I hope FYS is praying we don't meet in the CCHA playoffs.

turbo cool

January 25th, 2009 at 4:17 PM ^

Has there been any postgame reaction from either side? Just reading mgoblue.com there was absolutely no mention of this in the postgame report or the quotes. Brian, for us who aren't close to ann arbor right now keep us updates as to whether these punks for state are being punished and if any criminal charges are filed.

ALSO, and more importantly is Kampfer okay? Given his past injuries and all I hope for the best.

PA Blue

January 25th, 2009 at 4:16 PM ^

The written descriptions don't do that justice. The second MSU thug really tried to slash Kampfer's head off... he really could have killed him. Unfortunately, there is an attitude that if something happens in the playing "field" it isn't criminal. It really should be, though.

TheMichiganDif…

January 25th, 2009 at 4:26 PM ^

"Later Comley would relate that a Michigan fan broke into the locker room and tried to fight Tropp; multiple reports say it was him. I wish I, and about 200 students, had been there, too. But that's the difference between men and pigs like Conboy and Tropp."
Yes... because being a pig is the only way to stop pigs.

"And let's not exonerate Comley here. He recruited Conboy and knew exactly what he was getting."
The logic here is perfect.

Don't stoop to that level.

Ernis

January 25th, 2009 at 4:56 PM ^

Calling someone out to fight them face-to-face, while maybe not the ideal course of action, is at least honorable and respectable. Slugging someone in the back of the skull while his back is turned to you and slashing him in the throat while he lay motionless is cowardly, dishonorable and unacceptable in any athletic event. Do you understand the difference? It may seem subtle to you, but it isn't.

Ernis

January 25th, 2009 at 7:04 PM ^

If an adult male took a hockey stick to my unconscious son's neck, you can bet your life I would try to beat the hell out of said adult male scumbag. You can think less of me for it, but in that case I feel bad for your kids!

zoltan the destroyer

January 25th, 2009 at 4:59 PM ^

I realize Brian's post was written in anger, but it's still been posted for all to see... implying MSU's coach left a thug out there to purposefully hurt people instead of trying to win the game? Sensationalism. I don't think a knee-jerk reaction that tries to reduce this to a black & white, good vs. evil incident is productive or rational. See BGH's comment above for perspective.

big gay heart

January 25th, 2009 at 5:26 PM ^

How is it laughable to compare a cheap shot from behind to another cheap shot from behind? It's not. The only difference is that one incident occurred after the play was over. The analogy is there; I'm assuming you don't see it because one incident struck home while another didn't. The whole vs. them mentality is very easy to get behind.

Look, Conboy and Tropp certainly engaged in thuggish behavior. Both need to punished heavy-handily. Also, the CCHA has had huge problems with the quality of its referring and this is simply another sliver of evidence.

But, let's look at problems and people individually. We see this sort of behavior at all levels of hockey, the question has to become how can we prevent re-occurrences?

Or we just say Fuck State over and over and act like MSU is the only place with thuggish hockey players. That's productive.

Rush N Attack

January 25th, 2009 at 7:06 PM ^

It's like saying you ate at Taco Bell for dinner on Monday, then had dinner at a five star restaurant on Tuesday. Sure both nights you ate "dinner", but they were nowhere near the same thing except on the most basic level. Or you drive a Yugo, but your neighbor drives a Ferrari. Yes, they are both "cars", but that's about where the comparison stops. You labeling both as "attacks from behind" DOES NOT make them equal.

You compared a "crosscheck" after a goal, to a sucker punch attack from behind.

Crosschecks happen routinely in hockey, and you'll see them in every game (especially after goals). They happen so often, there's even have a penalty in the rulebook for it. You think Holmstrom is surprised when he's in front of the net and somebody crosschecks him (even after the play is over)? No, it's expected.

Slashing happens in hockey too. And they happen EVERY game. To compare every single slash to McSorley-Brashear is just as stupid.

This was a vicious attack on an UNSUSPECTING victim. You trying to turn this into a "But every team has kids guilty of taking cheap shots" argument is unbelievable. How can you not be outraged?

Oh wait, I see where you admitted you were NOT a Michigan hockey fan. My bad. As you were.

big gay heart

January 25th, 2009 at 7:17 PM ^

You missed the point, Princess. The point is that this is a systematic problem in hockey on both the collegiate and professional level. Hockey culture is unlike any other sports culture in that it celebrates fighting and scrums. Essentially, fans are asking 20, 22 year old kids to push the envelope, but don't push it too far. But hockey is a high intensity sport; it SHOULD be expected that - t some point - people are going to act poorly. That's why you see terrible behavior THROUGHOUT hockey. I saw Jack Johnson play 4 or 5 times; in two of those games, he was given game misconducts for making runs at people, runs that could very obviously have hurt the kids on the opposing teams. Just because they didn't doesn't mean he's blameless. His actions are part of the problem in the same way that Conboy's actions were part of the problem. The result of Conboy's actions was far more severe, but I'm trying to assess the root of the problem. It's not about "us" vs "them."

And please don't speculate on my outrage - just because I don't stoop to lynch mob rhetoric doesn't mean its not there. Look at this thread; out of almost 75 posts, like 4 are expressing general interest in Kampfer's well being. The proportion of posts preaching violence, condoning violence, instigating violence, or commending violence monstrously outweighs those extending concern for the kid. If that doesn't indicate cultural reasons behind events like this, I don't know what does.

Brian

January 25th, 2009 at 5:07 PM ^

I specifically avoided that allegation. He didn't put him out there specifically to hurt people, but he should have known better.

Comley recruited this guy, then put him out on the ice when he's obviously pissed off and obviously of no use when it comes to, you know, scoring. Having him out there was *asking* for an incident like this.

turbo cool

January 25th, 2009 at 5:04 PM ^

a pig? are you kidding me? I believe that it was the father of Kampfer. Just months after he had been assaulted on campus and had his skull fractured he came back to play. When that incident happened there was a very strong possibility that he wouldn't ever come back to play for the maize and blue. so yes, it was a small miracle that he made it back.

And then this happened. His son, after all that had happened earlier in the year, got a cheap shot then a slash to the back of his head/neck. Yes, it is a game, but those are criminal offenses and could've paralyzed his son. Are you saying after all of that you wouldn't have gone apeshit if that was your son?

jamiemac

January 25th, 2009 at 4:27 PM ^

Co-Signed......I am a lifelong hockey player, fan and booster and this kind of "play" totally fucks up the game. You can send messages with good, clean physical checks. Only cowards do it this way.

Comley orchestrated this from the bench. And, excellent point about the officiating decision on the punch.

I've been told there was something of a fight during the handshake line.....can you or anyone else provide some account of that....thanks in advance.

BlueintheLou

January 25th, 2009 at 4:28 PM ^

Utterly despicable. I have never seen anything like this. It is worse than Bertuzzi due to the slash from his Goon Buddy after he lay motionless on the ice. Do MSU people not realize this is precisely the reason no one respects them, because representatives of their University go out with the Spartan Green and do shit like this. They should be banned from the CCHA and expelled, along with criminal charges. I hope his father got a hold of him before they corralled him. Simply unconscionable.

big gay heart

January 25th, 2009 at 4:36 PM ^

So, I'm not a Michigan hockey fan. I am a fan of the sport and the CCHA, however. This obviously has no place in hockey and cannot, should not, and hopefully, will not be condoned/allowed. But every team has kids guilty of taking cheap shots. I remember watching Jack Johnson deliver a brutal,two-handed cross check to the back of Miami University's Nathan Davis AFTER he scored a goal. An inch higher, and the kid could have been paralyzed.

My point isn't to exonerate Tropp or Conboy, because that is impossible and unreasonable. But, I think we should hesitate to associate last night's events with MSU in a larger context - that is, the whole "you're nothing but goons" diatribe that is, simply, a race to the bottom. Hockey, as a sport, looks at misplaced anger as tolerable part of the game. As such, problems like this are systematically present. I think the question, really, becomes: do we regulate the game and take away the physical nature in order to prevent stuff like this from happening?

PA Blue

January 25th, 2009 at 4:40 PM ^

"I think the question, really, becomes: do we regulate the game and take away the physical nature in order to prevent stuff like this from happening?"

That is a false choice. There are plenty of physical sports where this kind of thuggery doesn't happen nearly like it does in hockey. A sport can have a "physical nature" and not have to tolerate brutality.

Enjoy Life

January 25th, 2009 at 5:05 PM ^

Might try reading the post next time. The NCAA does have rules already in place -- it's the refs who are not enforcing them.

"Someone who should also be gone: Kevin Hall. Hall watched Conboy pull all sorts of crap, including punching Tristin Llewellyn in the face as he looked at it directly, and didn't put a stop to it. Given the opportunity to boot him off the ice with a ten minute misconduct for unsportsmanlike, he instead turned it into a minor and let Conboy loose with under a minute left. He lost control of the game. He's an idiot. He should be fired."

Enjoy Life

January 25th, 2009 at 5:52 PM ^

Zoltan, you posted "it would be far more productive to address the rules that tolerate escalation of violence."

The current NCAA hockey rules DO NOT tolerate escalation of violence. Lack of enforcement does.

http://gowoodywire.com/2008/02/06/the-ncaa-hockey-fighting-policy-is-a-…

And, the essence of hockey does not include assault with a deadly weapon.

big gay heart

January 25th, 2009 at 5:55 PM ^

Hockey is a physical sport that is played with weapons. No other sport comes close to possessing this combination. We, as fans, love scrums and fights and animosity. The point is, there is a fine line that is going to get crossed from time to time. I'm unsure how to rectify that or if its even possible.

Enjoy Life

January 25th, 2009 at 6:04 PM ^

You must be very young or have a short memory. Constant fighting used to be a real problem in the NCAA. The NCAA changed the rules and the problem has been reduced dramatically.

Yeah, every time I leave a hockey game at Yost and someone has not been laid out on the ice I always say, "Wow, that game totally sucked!!"

big gay heart

January 25th, 2009 at 6:21 PM ^

Field hockey is played by women and does not use skates, therefore lacking either steel edges or the insane amount of momentum that hockey players have.

Lacrosse is played by pussies - who, again, aren't on skates - and there are no boards. The stick is much shorter and not nearly as - potentially speaking - hazardous.

Like most of you previous efforts, fail.

PA Blue

January 25th, 2009 at 6:55 PM ^

"Lacrosse is played by pussies - who, again, aren't on skates - and there are no boards. The stick is much shorter and not nearly as - potentially speaking - hazardous."

You are wrong on both counts. I'm going to take the first "point" as self-evidently false and made by someone who knows nothing about the sport. The second reinforces that you know nothing, since if you knew the sport you'd know that defenders use sticks about the length of hockey sticks (5' and longer).