Men can be so childish sometimes. Take, for example, Sunday’s preseason line brawl between the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It’s not the fight(s) I’m talking about, though. It’s the aftermath. The finger-pointing, blaming and chorus of “They started it!” and “No, THEY started it!!”
It all started, the Sabres say, when Corey Tropp was knocked out by Jamie Devane.
Au contraire, say the Leafs:
Ron Rolston said the #sabres were upset about Corey Tropp getting knocked out by 6’5 Jamie Devane. The #leafs say Tropp started that fight.
So the Sabres send out Scott to avenge his fallen teammate. Toronto coach Randy Carlyle, trying to “defuse” the situation, sends out Kessel’s line. Scott and Kessel exchange words, Kessel gives Scott a poke, and all hell breaks loose.
“You started it!” “No, YOU started it!” “It’s not my fault, honest! HE STARTED IT!”
According to the Maple Leafs, John Scott “broke the code” by fighting with a skill player. Now I’m not a Scott fan. I don’t think he belongs in the NHL, because he can barely play hockey. But as Sean McIndoe pointed out, Scott didn’t actually fight Kessel. In fact, he didn’t do much of anything.
Given the mismatch in lines, Scott could have done real damage. Instead, he barely touched Kessel and friends. Never went full Girmson.
Kessel, OTOH, slashed Scott not once, but twice. The first slash was perhaps excusable, but the second was most decidedly not. As a fan old enough to remember when Teddy Green was almost killed by Wayne Maki, I’m nauseated by the sight of a swinging two-hander. Kessel should be suspended for that, though there are rumblings that the NHL won’t punish him beyond a fine, as they worry about sending some kind of message that skill players can’t defend themselves. How about sending a message that swinging a stick will not be tolerated, no matter who you are?
(And that third poke at Scott, really, Phil? He’s tied up with an official and another Leaf, and you throw a little spear at him like a kid poking at a caged tiger? Talk about childish.)
Another stupid moment came when David Clarkson left the bench to join the fight. You’d think after Paul Bissonnette was hit with an AUTOMATIC 10-game suspension for doing the same thing that Clarkson would know better, but he obviously wasn’t signed by the Maple Leafs for his smarts.
Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier is a MENSA member compared to Clarkson. Nothing like making yourself noticed/taking the lead in the goalie competition by beating up Ryan Miller, who on a good day probably couldn’t outfight a chipmunk. I think the most nauseating moment of this entire stramash was listening to the announcers howl with glee over Bernier pounding on Miller (who OMG is so much TALLER! Like that makes a difference?), even while noting that Miller has suffered more than one concussion. I’m not a Miller fan myself, but if I was a Buffalo fan, I’d be covering my eyes at that moment (not to mention muting the sound).
So you know what, guys? You’re ALL wrong. You all did dumb things (yes, even you, Mr. Bernier. Goalies should only fight when their guys are outnumbered. Ryan Miller had about as much interest in joining that brawl as he did in running naked down Bloor Street.). I suppose you’re being punished, though, by the fact that everyone thinks you’re hilarious.
As far as real aftermath goes, there’ll be more “code” talk, a lot of ”we wuz wronged!” talk, and a lot of ”Circle the date!” (Nov. 15) on the calendar when these two teams meet for real.