Ottawa Senators fans with long term memories of trivial events might recall the highlight of defenceman David Van Drunen’s career. It was a one-game stint with the club during a lengthy Canadian road trip in 1999-00, when the club was decimated with injuries on the blueline.
If that moment served as the highlight of Van Drunen’s 13-year professional career with 12 teams, the lowlight surely came last Saturday, in the rematch of a Thursday exhibition game between Van Drunen’s Odessa Jackpoles and the Colorado Eagles of the Central Hockey League.
Van Drunen, Odessa’s 34-year-old captain, was punched in the face by Brad MacMillan of the Colorado Eagles as the teams lined up for a faceoff.
Van Drunen suffered a broken jaw and broken nose, needed five plates and 18 screws to repair the damage and is expected to miss two months of action. The knockout blow opened the door for general chaos, including fights in the ensuing 99 seconds and then a line brawl with 10:34 remaining. Odessa coach Paul Gillis sent his team to the dressing room before the game ended, telling the referees the team wouldn’t play anymore.
And what is sure to send a chill up the spines of any hockey association, Jackpoles owner Rick Gasser says legal action should be taken against MacMillan.
Gasser told the Odessa American newspaper that he asked police to arrest MacMillan three times during the game. He also asked for a lifetime ban for MacMillan and suspension for Eagles assistant coach Greg Pankewicz, who was running the bench for the pre-season game. Yes, the same Pankewicz who also played three games for the Senators in 1993-94.
In yet another coincidence, Colorado head coach Chris Stewart, who watched the game from the stands in order to evaluate his team, served as head coach of the Western Hockey League’s Prince Albert Raiders from 1995-98. Van Drunen played with Prince Albert during two of those seasons.
“Thursday night when we played them was like Slapshot,” Gasser told the newspaper. “Saturday night was a horror show. They should be ashamed of themselves.”
The CHL is investigating to determine what discipline is necessary.