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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Rookie's hard hit resonates
Montreal's Latendresse altered his physical style after his vicious check on Rob DiMaio. 12
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published November 15, 2006
TAMPA - Guillaume Latendresse said he watched replays of his hit on Lightning wing Rob DiMaio "many times."
The Canadiens left wing said seeing DiMaio's head bounce off the glass during a preseason game in Montreal and watching his body crumble to the ice with a concussion was unnerving.
He said he fretted about it for weeks and pulled back from his usual physical style.
DiMaio, 38 and in his 18th season, still has headaches and dizziness and could be facing a career-ending injury.
"I'm not a player who tries to hurt people," Latendresse said Tuesday at the St. Pete Times Forum, where the teams play tonight. "It was a really bad play that happened. I'm sorry for him. I hope he gets better."
Latendresse, 19, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound rookie, received a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct after he crushed the 5-10, 190-pound DiMaio into the boards from behind.
"I did not try to hit him in the head," Latendresse said. "I tried to finish my check and do my job."
"They asked him to hit," Canadiens defenseman Mathieu Dandenault said of Montreal's coaches. "He went out of his way to make a big hit. It was borderline, side shoulder from behind, and Robbie never saw him. Guillaume felt really bad about it."
Latendresse, who maintains the hit was clean, said the episode left him gun-shy.
"You hurt someone and it's tough," he said. "After that it's in your mind. When I saw a guy in the corner and went after him, I was not going the same way as I was in preseason."
Latendresse had just two hits in his first six games before getting four against the Avalanche. He has just six penalty minutes.
"In no way, shape or form is he a dirty player," Dandenault said. "He's a real nice, sweet young man that just wants to play in the NHL. It's not in his nature to have that mean, dirty streak."
Damian Cristodero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727 893-8622. View his blog at lightning.tampabay.com.