Apr. 7, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres head coach Ron Rolston on the bench during a game against the New Jersey Devils at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL Drops the Ball Following The Buffalo Sabres - Toronto Maple Leafs Brawl

Sep 22, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres players on the ice during a fight in the third period at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Buffalo 5-3. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The final bit of fallout from Sunday night’s steel cage match / hockey game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs fell this afternoon, with both teams being penalized by the NHL.

Let’s start with the story as it pertains to the 716.  Sabres head coach Ron Rolston was fined an undisclosed (at the time I’m writing this) amount of money for his role in the events that led to 416 penalties being called and 1500 punches being thrown – totally true!  To be specific, the NHL fined Rolston for player selection and team conduct, and I’m here to tell you, the fine is deserved.  I’ve gone back and forth with fans (in a friendly way, mind you) over the brawl that took place, and I’m not going to reiterate my arguments fully here, but there are two things to keep in mind here:

1. Corey Tropp‘s attempt to avenge the hit on Marcus Foligno was the right thing to do, but he picked the wrong player, lost, and was inadvertently injured.  There was no reason to try and avenge Tropp’s fight, too, but Ron Rolston kept John Scott on the ice, who has been very clear about what he intended to do: fight someone.  Anyone.  Rookie mistake, Ron.

2. This was a preseason game.  This fact has been sort of lost in the shuffle, but nonsense like this shouldn’t occur during the preseason, when very little is at stake.  If Buffalo is trying to make a statement, they may want to wait until they can win some regular season games.  That way, other teams might actually listen.

Now: onto the Toronto side of things.  Phil “I’m a Lumberjack” Kessel got to enjoy a short little phone conversation with Brendan ‘The Commish” Shanahan today regarding his attempt to chop down John Scott.  At the end of the day, Kessel was suspended for the remaining three preseason games on the Toronto Maple Leafs schedule.

Wow!  Please explain to us how you arrived at this bone-numbingly idiotic decision, Mr. Commissioner!

So the fact that Kessel has no history of supplemental discipline, plus the fact that Scott received no injury, outweighs the fact that he used his stick as a weapon, just six days after he USED HIS STICK AS A WEAPON?!?

If the NHL Department of Player Safety is not the biggest joke in the world of professional sports, then I’m a voluptuous red-head posing as a guy in order to infiltrate the world of sports blogging.

I know Zack Kassian broke Sam Gagner‘s jaw with a truly reckless high stick over the weekend, and I believe his five-game suspension was too lenient, but I will at least give Kassian this much: his reaction was born out of frustration, not the intent to injure.  Kessel fully intended to injure Scott, but because there was no injury, he gets what amounts to a wet kiss on the lips, with tongue.  The NHL needs to stop considering whether a player was injured, and focus on whether there was intent to injure, period.  Otherwise, it’s going to take a serious injury for anyone in the NHL to actually learn a lesson.

What do you think of the fines/suspensions levied?  Leave your comments below, or @theamazingMrS!

Tags: Buffalo Sabres Toronto Maple Leafs

  • John

    This just tells players its ok. I don’t get how there wasn’t at least a 2 game suspension. I would just have someone go swinging their stick @ him come there first game. Also this will just piss the Sabres off more I think and will cause problems in the regular season beyond the first game.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      Yeah, this really sends a serious message to the players. Shanahan is going to get someone crippled or killed.

      • John

        Yea lately I haven’t agreed with you in regards to Kaleta and other points but I think everyone should be in agreement that a suspension was needed. Like I said to someone else did he have him on his fantasy team?

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          A-ha! That’s why Shanahan went soft on him!

          I know that when it comes to some of the more “old school” aspects of the game (Kaleta’s role, brawling) I probably don’t share the views of a lot of hockey fans. That’s fine – we’re all Sabres fans, even if we disagree on certain points. On this point, I think we’re all unified when we say that Kessel’s “suspension” is an absolute joke.

          • John

            Exactly. Should be interesting against the Laffs

          • qwicwted

            I would like to hear Shanahan’s verbal explaination of “intent” and how Kessel’s actions didn’t fall into that category. What a joke.

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            The more I hear Shanahan speak, the more angry I get. His explanation would just make things worse, because it’s clear he’s an idiot.

  • Jes

    lol this is hilarious. flashbacks of when Lucic was attempting to injure (and succeeded) Miller and he got absolutely nothing. Yippee Kessel gets a couple preseason games, games that he probably wouldn’t have been playing in anyway. lol Shanny my friend you are such a douche. You definitely have it out for the Sabres….

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      Ha ha ha! You certainly have a way with words, Jes! Could not agree more.

      • Kevin

        The guys on NHL Network aren’t’ any better, those idiots are kissing up to league in every way they can. Shanahan needs to stop taking bribes.

      • Jes

        I learn from the best my friend;).

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  • Kevin

    I disagree, coaches have been sending out their 4th line tough guys after a scuffle or fight for years and years. This not something new. As far as only being preseason is ridiculous, what if the Sabres played chicken like they did against Boston after the Lucic hit? You must send the message now. Did it get out of hand? yes. But, it takes two to tango. Also since Scott was already on the ice when Tropp got whooped, he could have easily caused a melee then but obviously chose not to. In 40 some years of of watching the game, I have never seen or heard of what Rolston got charged with. Totally bogus. I hope he appeals.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      But Kevin – the Sabres didn’t play chicken. Tropp took umbrage and did what he should have done. Dirty hit = Tropp fights. From that point on, the game should have resumed. What message were the Sabres trying to send – if we pick a fight and lose, we’ll keep picking fights? I don’t get that. Either way, Kessel got off so easy, I almost feel sick to my stomach.

      • Sean McGrath

        Can we also talk about how his spear didn’t make it into the video along with his slashes? Another thing that gets looked over.

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          Thanks, Sean – I was thinking the same thing. And I didn’t know that idiot was whacking Flyers players, too. What a joke.

          • Kevin

            Rich, I know they didn’t play chicken this time. I’m saying what if they did. What kind of message would that have sent preseason or not? Btw, I feel the same way about the spear. Must be the Leafs sent the Sheriff a basket of doughnuts and Molsons. LOL

          • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

            Ha ha! And a bag of toques, too!

  • exchequer

    buffalo need not worry about it’s star players being injured by goons, for the obvious reason, buffalo would have to have some star players to start with.
    best thing about buffalo is that it is in buffalo.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      Thanks for trolling!

      • exchequer

        yes and your drivel is rhodes scholar material

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          Considering I have Master’s Degree, that I teach writing, and have a degree in communications, I have to agree! I’m glad you notice talent when you see it.

        • lamarred1118

          trolls who bow to the queen, sod off dishrag

  • Sean McGrath

    This is a different year with the same story. Buffalo gets shafted, much like Kessel to Scott, and then Buffalo looks like idiots because we also get penalized for a stupid call that like Kevin said, has been routine for years of rough play. This is basically Shanahan spitting in our faces saying that no matter how hard we try and how much crap we take, the person doing it to us is going to walk free.

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  • lamarred1118

    If I get this straight, Rolston actually will end up with more of a punishment than Kessel? This is an example of why the NHL lags behind the rest of professional leagues, the disciplinary system is a farce. Kassian gets 8 games aind Kessel gets 3 after Shanny stated intent couldn’t be determined for Kassian and then the very next day makes a point of highlighting the stick work by Kessel against the Flyers but then decides that 5 times of using the stick on an opponent(albeit in two separate games) which was no doubt intentional, is less of an offence because there was no injury. Laughable but really not unexpected, none of the small market teams ever gets a fair shake in this type of situation.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      I’m really saddened that they take injury into consideration. That’s like a cop telling someone, “Well, you tried to shoot him, but you missed, so I’ll just take your gun away for a few days. Now go home.”

  • Kevin

    Let me add this: I would much rather have a goon and some surrounding tough players to go with him that can score as well, then guys who swing their stick instead of dropping the gloves. I know the stupid instigator rule excuse has alot to do with that. But, has it become an accepted part of the game over fighting because of it? I find that insulting. Not only that, afraid!!

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      And this ridiculous “suspension” only encourages it more, as John said above.

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  • Douglas Wilkinson

    The buffalo hillbilies and their fans are the real joke!

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      You came here . . . because?

    • Joe Mazurkiewicz

      And I suppose you have kessels cancerous nut in yer collection someplace!!!!!!!!

      • Dano


        • Joe Mazurkiewicz

          SORRY!! That was uncalled for.

          • Dano

            Dougs original comments werent any better. I dunno about you, but I dont know any Hill Billies in Buffalo. No mountains around here. Maybe Doug failed Geography or something ;)

          • Joe Mazurkiewicz

            Well now you do!!! Know a hillbilly,twohills,if you know what I mean!!!!!!!!!!

    • Dano

      Why the flaming and insults? Honest Question.

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  • coug56

    The messed up thing is that while the slashing may have stopped here, Kessel continued to poke the bear… literally. When Scott was on the ice he was jamming him with his stick. Even later after the referees had seperated Scott, he skated over and jabbed Scott with his stick. Kessel has a big mouth and rather than back it up with his fists like a man, he starts teeing off with his stick. I’m not saying it’s anywhere near Marty Mcsorely level, but it’s still the top of a slippery slope.

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  • al

    well the way I see it, Scott was about to break Phil’s face and Phil was trying to break Scott’s leg. Let’s not nitpic about who was trying to injure who.
    On another note I think we need more goons. If we had six then we could goon out the other teams top six forwards without consequences. The NHL will only levy suspensions on the other team. Sounds like a way to the Cup to me.

    • Dano Jaye

      There is merit to your words. There is also a history/disease to it.

      Something called the ‘ Philly Flu ‘. It was caught by players of the opposing teams when the Broad Street Bullies came to their town. They took home Lord Stanley in 74 and 75. Funny, it was against the Sabres in 75!

      How about the ‘ Big Bad Bruins ‘ whom have re-enabled their traditions as of recent years ( some would say it never left ).

      2007 Ducks? They are exactly what you spoke of in the ‘ top 6/bottom 6 ‘. They lead the league in Fighting Majors and even their star players ( Perry/Getzlaf ) would shed the mitts knowing their whole team was behind them.

      2009 Penguins anyone? Eric ‘ Hand of God ‘ Goddard, Rupp, Asham, Bissonnette , Cooke cheap shoting people..

      Nobody touched ‘ The Great one ‘ in Edmonton. Cementhead Semenko would come calling.. How many cups did they have?

  • Joe Mazurkiewicz


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  • Dano Jaye

    The main problem is hockey is a game for men, but the fanbase in Buffalo has made the game more of a ‘ Social Event ‘.

    I remember the Nosebleeds in the Aud, early 70′s. People left work and went to the game. No showers, women werent putting on their skinny jeans and heels/make-up. People were drinking beer and a real ‘ blue collar ‘ ethic was displayed. Hell, some of the women were dirtier then the guys as they were working in the factories/warehouses right along side of them!

    The Players respected each other and some even had ‘ day jobs ‘ with those in the crowd watching them play.

    Today, the Fans see things through the new ‘ PC ‘ glasses. Players need visors, better equipment, the game needs to be faster.. Gone is the 2 line pass and the defensemans means/ways of hooking and clutching.

    I would ask, If the game is so much better now, in modern times, why isnt it on main stream TV still? Nascar and Golf flood the airwaves ( Neither of which I really consider a sport.. ) yet a North American team sport that has been around since the late 1800′s is still in the closet.

    The main problem exists between the fans and the Game. In certain areas ( Buffalo ) the fans want a fast north/south high scoring game. They want a ‘ sterile ‘ type of game. ‘ Theres no need for 10 rounds.. er a goon! ‘

    Other areas ( Anaheim, Boston, Philly ), the fans want a team that will win a cup with either goals or intimidation. They have no problems getting in the trenches and doing whatever it takes to get a win.

    Im wrong? Lets count any one of their number of Cups to ours..

    In Buffalo, gone are the GREAT days of Ray/May/Barnaby! A team that was solidified as being ‘ all for one! ‘

    Gone are the days of the Number 8 seed going after #1 from the west. A team of nobodies ( outside of Hasek ) with the hearts of lions going after a team filled with big names and hall of fame individuals. ‘ No Goal ‘, is STILL on bumper stickers, but the true goal was achieved.

    Buffalo Fans need to accept that there will always be a level of violence on the ice. You have men with blades on their feet, tomahawks in their hands and they wear as much body armor ( actually more ) then I did in the Marines. These arent little boys whom you put into ‘ time out ‘ and tell them ‘ you were bad today Johnny Scott, you get a red card ‘ like some 6 year old in grade school.

    So long as other teams wish to use intimidation and sometimes fighting as a measure to their edge, you either have to not play, or join them at their game in order to succeed.

    Some may coach, some may play, Some of us have watched or played the sport since the late 60′s early 70′s and everyone believes they have an opinion.

    The League dropped the ball on this as.. well.. were ‘ Buffalo ‘. We will whine and cry and not do anything about it. We will roll over and just say ‘ well.. maybe next time ‘ and go into the corner in ‘ time out ‘.. as we have done for the last 3 or 4 seasons..

    Hows it working out for us?

    The players USED to take care of these things on their own. Someone swings the lumber, they were taken to task. Sometime by their OWN team mates in the locker room.

    Are we going to ‘ Hockey Games ‘ or ‘ Social Events ‘? I think that is a question that needs to be proposed more then saying the league dropped the ball. They knew there wouldnt be an outcry. If it was the Toronto, Boston or Pittsburgh fan base.. They would NEVER have issued such non-reprimands.

    • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

      Hey – thanks for the read, and the comments! I’ll be honest (I think anyone who reads me knows that much!): I don’t see the need for a brawl like this. I’m okay with fighting in hockey (although I know it is a big reason that other sports fans find hockey barbaric), but these full-out brawls . . . football players wear armor, and many of them are much bigger than hokey players, and you don’t see this crap happening on a football field. There’s more contact on the average football play than in any given shift in a hockey game. If that means I’m not old-school fine. The game can have its contact, and even its fighting, but these brawls are ridiculous, to me, and starting one makes you the villain. I do appreciate your thoughts, though!!!

      • Dano Jaye

        Hockey used to have a courtesy of ‘ gentlemen ‘. If players had an issue, they were settled ‘ on the ice ‘. The league took that aspect out of the game with the whole ‘ front office ‘ setting.

        The people whom play football wouldnt survive a shift in the NHL. They dont have the skill/talent/balance. Football is a ‘ simple ‘ game for a ‘ simple ‘ mind. The play stops every 10-12 seconds, theres only ‘ one line ‘ ( of scrimmage ), theres no ‘ short handed ‘ situations.. 2 totally different things ( hockey/football ). 2 totally different kinds of people playing each sport.

        Hockey is a LIMITED sport. It takes a LOT of money to play/get involved. Its only popular in certain areas.

        Dunno your history of the brawls, but the present ones started to enable themselves in the Early 90′s. The whole ‘ instigator ‘ rule. Bettmans working with Dodge/Chrysler to ‘ clean up the game ‘ and make it a ‘ family sport ‘ or more watchable.

        Theres no more ‘ bench clearing brawls ‘ as some media outlets reported ( falsely ) on this one.

        Instead, we have Moore/Bertuzzi events. Great trade-off! How about McSorleys lumberjacking?

        A good DonnyBrooke was understandable. This crap today though? A stickworker who has video as proof that hes done these things more then once.. and hes allowed back on the ice?

        When Kessel gets mad again and slashes someone and injures them..

        • http://SabreNoise.com/ Richard Spalding

          I agree that I would much rather see two guys using their fists to settle their issues than the garbage Kessel pulled. I don’t even know how Shanahan can show Kessel using his stick against Philly and STILL only sit him for a few meaningless preseason games. It’s embarrassing, honestly.

          • Dano

            Think of what you said. Shannahan watched what Kessel has done in more then 1 instance.

            When Kessel finally hurts someone with his stickwork, the league will say ‘ well, we suspended him before! ‘. Its a ‘ nothing ‘ suspension to begin with. They know it, you know it and I know it.

            The only people whom wont see the full picture are some from the newer crowds whom never witnessed the really violent days of hockey.

    • Borden

      I guess goalie mask were for pussies too,eh?
      I agree on some points with you,but don’t deny the needed evolution of the game some growing pains will occur but I believe Gary Bettman is the biggest problem with the league especially when it comes to Canadian Fans.