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Associated Press
Feb 1, 2007, 12:29 AM EST


NEW YORK (AP) -Brendan Shanahan isn't the captain of the New York Rangers, he's just the guy who sticks up for him.

Shanahan ripped NHL officials Wednesday night after the Rangers' 2-1 home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs because of what he feels is prejudiced officiating against captain Jaromir Jagr.

"I don't know what the deal is," an angry Shanahan said. "Guys hit him late, guys hit him high, guys hook his hands. He doesn't complain. He just goes out and plays and plays and plays. The referees just seem to have a different set of rules about the way people get to play against him.

"Not since (Slava) Fetisov came over from Russia have I ever seen a star player get ignored by the referees, and I know the reason why they were ignoring him back then."

Jagr was reluctant to take over the Rangers' captaincy before this season. He was the natural choice to replace Mark Messier, especially after the Czech forward set team records for goals and points last season.

And the transition became easier when Shanahan brought his outspoken nature and leadership qualities to the Rangers dressing room following his departure over the summer from the Detroit Red Wings. The soft-spoken Jagr would much rather do his talking with skilled play.

"I think criticism is a great form of adjustment for us," Mike Murphy, the NHL's senior vice president of hockey operations told The Associated Press in a phone interview from the league's "war room" in Toronto. "The more honest criticism directed at us helps us watch our department close to make sure we do things right.

"Criticism isn't something we run from."

Shanahan took a large role in getting the NHL to tighten up its rules on clutching and grabbing once the lockout was settled before last season. During the year off, Shanahan formed a panel of hockey experts who made several recommendations that the league adopted.

Now he wants to see those rules applied. Toronto was 1-for-6 on the power play Wednesday while New York converted one of only two chances.

"I didn't think the game was called any different than games are called every night," Murphy said. "Jagr is a player that does get identified by the other team. I know the Leafs used Hal Gill against him, and Hal is a big strong guy. He is able to use his size and strength to eliminate Jagr in many different ways.

"They know Jagr is a key performer on the Rangers, but teams are allowed to play against him in a legal fashion."

The Rangers' comeback hopes were dashed when Matt Cullen was sent off for holding with 1:25 remaining. Shanahan didn't dispute that call.

"I just have a tough time sitting there throughout the game, especially in the second period, watching the calls against one of the best players in the league. The NBA didn't let people grab (Michael) Jordan by the waist every time he went up for a jump shot. Jags has to play through that all season long.

"It's not just tonight's refs, it's every night. I have played with other superstar players and they get a whole lot more respect than this guy, and I am trying to eliminate the reasons why that's the way it is."

Jagr had already finished speaking to reporters when Shanahan unloaded. Rangers coach Tom Renney showed surprise when told of the remarks, but didn't dispute the claims.

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League won't fine Shanahan for ripping refs

Bob McKenzie with AP files
2/1/2007 3:04:13 PM


Brendan Shanahan of the New York Rangers is not being fined by the NHL for making critical remarks about the officiating in Wednesday night's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Which is not to be confused with the league being happy about it.

"We don't muzzle our players," NHL vice president Colin Campbell said, when asked if Shanahan would be fined over his remarks that NHL referees don't give Ranger teammate Jaromir Jagr a fair shake. "We're not happy that Brendan Shanahan chose to be critical of our officials but he is, within limits, free to say what he wants.

"Brendan is a veteran player and has been in our league a long time. If he feels this criticism will help him or his teammates or his team, that it might give them an edge or that it just needed to be said, that's up to him. But I can say that our referees aren't going to change the way they call the game because of criticism from anyone. Our referees have a great deal of integrity and they call the game as they see it."

Shanahan had harsh words for NHL officials Wednesday night after the Rangers lost 2-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was perplexed at the treatment Jagr had to endure during the game.

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This is the reason that I am glad the Capitals do not have Jaromir Jagr anymore. He has immense talent, but in no way is he a leader. He won't even stick up for himself when he is getting manhandled out there. That is even coming from a person (myself) who despises it when other players complain about non-calls. Jagr shouldn't be the captain of the Rangers. How do you expect him to stick up for his teammates when he won't stick up for himself?
 
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