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!