Hit-man Hartnell

FOR FLYERS FANS out there, we raise this question: What word comes to mind when considering the play of winger Scott Hartnell?

Aggressive? Tough? Scrappy?

What about dirty? No? Well, there are some players who disagree with you.

According to a poll of 324 NHL players published in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated - which hits newsstands today - 5 percent of players thought Hartnell could use a lesson in sensitivity. Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger and Dallas forward Steve Ott topped the dirtiest player list, with 13 percent each. Ottawa forward Jarkko Ruutu (12 percent) and Rangers forward Sean Avery (10 percent) were the next two, followed by Hartnell.

"I will take it. I guess any press is good press," Hartnell said. "If the players are talking about me, I think that's a good thing. I don't actually consider myself too dirty of a player. I play the game hard. I think I play it fair. But I guess maybe after the whistles and stuff, that's where I might get a bad name. I will just keep chirping and getting in players' faces. I guess that's why I am called dirty."

Hartnell tallied 139 penalty minutes during the regular season and an additional 23 minutes during the playoff series against the Penguins. And, of course, there is the beatdown he unleashed on the Pens' Chris Kunitz in Game 3, but we do recall that being in retaliation for Kunitz' repeated attacks on Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen.

Which really doesn't make him such a dirty player after all. At least not in our book.


Speaking of dirty beatdowns . . .


Freddie Cadena, a former junior welterweight boxer whose pro career was cut short after he suffered seizures following a nationally televised fight in 2003, could spend up to 13 years behind bars after pleading guilty Monday to aggravated manslaughter for knocking out a disc jockey outside a Paterson, N.J., nightclub in 2005. Rafael Falcon died from head injuries 9 days after the assault. *

- Kerith Gabriel

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