Thornton not embarrassed by Lucic's fight

In last night’s Toronto and Boston game, a couple of heavy hitters took part is what I considered a fairly spirited fight. The Bruins’ Milan Lucic and the Leafs’ Colton Orr squared off, in about as equal a fight as you could hope for, size-wise.

The fight was a lengthy and if you would choose a winner, it would obviously be Orr. He landed a number of big shots, but Lucic stayed with it for a long time. He took some hard shots early but fought back; there was nothing about the fight that screamed ‘turtle!’ or anything like that, just the fact that Orr is clearly a better fighter.

On the very next faceoff, the Bruins’ big fighter took on Wayne Primeau. It’s just the nature of the game, it was exciting at that. I saw absolutely nothing wrong with anything that happened between the two fights.

Well, Don Cherry did.

“Thornton was embarrassed by this fight
coming up.
He was embarrassed. If you
don’t want to fight then don’t fight, but you can’t quit,” said Cherry.
“And that’s exactly what [Lucic] did. That’s the trouble with the
Bruins. You don’t hit. You don’t win fights. If you’re gonna get in a
fight then you go.

“Lucic is a good hockey
player, but if you’re
going to fight – you don’t quit. Look at him he’s looking at the
linesman to come on in. You don’t tell him to come on in [and break up
the fight]. You go out on your shield. If you’re going to get in a fight
and then you hide behind a linesman. That’s a disgrace if you’re the
Boston Bruins as far as I’m concerned.”

Well,
that’s certainly his opinion. If you watch the fight you can certainly
see Lucic back off a bit towards the end as if signaling the fight was
over. But this wasn’t an example of him taking a few shots and then
backing off; it was a lengthy fight and both he and Orr got some good
shots in before the linesmen stepped in.

Of course, Thornton
doesn’t feel it was a bad fight and he’s certainly not embarrassed.

“I thought it was necessary after their tough guy went
with Looch.” said Thornton. “I figured I’d answer the bell. It was a
good fight. I don’t know if it was necessary or not, but I just wanted
to show that we wouldn’t be pushed around.

“[Lucic/Orr]
was a
good fight. If they wanted to stop it they would have. They were still
swinging and there wasn’t any real damage being done. It was a good
fight. Punched each other in the head a couple of times and when they
came apart I think the refs did a good job of getting in there.”

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    Austin Watson suspended two games for boarding Dominic Toninato

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    The NHL’s Department of Player Safety is working overtime on Sunday night, as they’ve handed out a pair of suspensions.

    Moments after announcing Radko Gudas’ 10-game suspension, the league handed a two-game ban to Predators forward Austin Watson for boarding Avs rookie Dominic Toninato.

    Unlike Gudas, Watson has no history of being fined or suspended during his NHL career.

    Here’s the league’s full explanation of their decision to suspend Watson:

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    Radko Gudas suspended 10 games for slashing Mathieu Perreault over the head

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    We all knew that Radko Gudas would receive a suspension for his slash to the back of Jets forward Mathieu Perreault‘s head, but we didn’t know how long he’d be forced to sit out.

    On Sunday, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced that Gudas has been suspended for 10 games for the incident.

    The league confirmed that the fact that the Flyers defenseman is a repeat offender played against him in this case.

    Check out the Department of Player Safety’s full explanation of the suspension:

    The suspension will also cost him just over $408,000 in salary, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. Ouch!

    “He got the meaty part of the neck,” Perreault said after the game, per TSN.ca  “It could have been worse, I guess.

    “He apologized in the penalty box, but when you look at the replay, it looks like he did it on purpose. It wasn’t an accident. He’s been known for doing stuff like that, so I certainly don’t appreciate it. I’m sure the league will take care of it.”

    Gudas served the first game of the suspension on Saturday. He’ll be eligible to return to the Flyers lineup on on Dec. 12 against Toronto.

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    Flyers will host Penguins in outdoor game at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019

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    The battle of Pennsylvania will take a new twist, as the NHL announced that the Philadelphia Flyers will be hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles) on Feb. 23, 2019.

    This will be the second time that these two teams play each other in an outdoor game. Last season, the Penguins beat the Flyers, 4-2, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

    “It’s always a special opportunity to take the game back to its roots and have NHL players skate outdoors,” Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse said in a release. “We competed against the Flyers outdoors at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh 2017 and look forward to completing the in-state ‘home-and-home’ series at Lincoln Financial Field in 2019. It should be a great atmosphere.”

    This will be the fifth time that the Penguins are involved in an outdoor door since 2008. They won a shootout decision against Buffalo (2008), they lost a home game to Washington (2011), they lost in Chicago (2014) and they beat the Flyers earlier this year.

    It’s the second time the Flyers host an outdoor game (the first one was at Citizens Bank Park baseball stadium). The game at Lincoln Financial Field will be the fourth outdoor game for the Flyers. They lost in Boston in overtime (2010), they dropped home decision to the Rangers (2012), and they had the loss to Pittsburgh last year.

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    Is it time for the Canadiens to blow up their roster?

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    The 2017-18 season isn’t even two months old, and the Montreal Canadiens already find themselves at a crossroads. Is it time for them to start rebuilding?

    The Canadiens, who are 8-11-2 after three straight losses to Columbus, Arizona and Toronto, have over $7 million in cap space, but they have nowhere to use it. They already traded a blue-chip prospect in Mikhail Sergachev over the summer, and it’s not like their prospect pipeline is overflowing with quality either.

    Clearly, losing Andrei Markov and Alexander Radulov (for nothing) hurt this edition of the Canadiens.

    The team just completed a six-game homestand  that they should have used to make up for their incredibly poor start to the year. Instead, they finished the stretch at the Bell Center with a mediocre 2-3-1 record (they barely beat Vegas and Buffalo, who were both playing their second game in two nights when they took on Montreal).

    During the six-game home stretch, they managed to find the back of the net just 10 times (four of those goals came in the 5-4 loss to the Coyotes).

    Up until this point, general manager Marc Bergevin has been unwilling to trade away his veterans for prospects and/or draft picks. That might be about to change, per Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos.

    On Saturday’s “Headlines” segment, Kypreos mentioned that ownership and the front office will have a discussion about the direction of the team.

    The one player that was singled out on the broadcast was Max Pacioretty, who has one year remaining (after this season) on his current contract.

    Would the Canadiens be willing to move him? Maybe, but would they do so with the idea of a rebuild in mind? That remains to be seen.

    You have to believe that Bergevin’s on thin ice. Despite being under contract until 2022, he has to be feeling the pressure right now. Montreal is a demanding hockey market, and although they have plenty of cap space, this team clearly isn’t better than it was last year.

    The core is far from terrible. Pacioretty, Shea Weber, Carey Price and Jonathan Drouin are all quality hockey players, but they don’t have much depth up front and their defense might be one of the worst in the league after Weber. Jeff Petry has struggled, the contract they handed out to Karl Alzner appears to be a mistake, Jordie Benn, Joe Morrow and Brandon Davidson are all depth players, and Victor Mete is a promising 19-year-old that’s had his ice time cut lately.

    When it comes to the center ice position, the Canadiens are still searching for answers. Drouin has been forced to learn on the job, which is far from ideal for a number one center. Behind him, there’s Phillip Danault and Tomas Plekanec, who are both better suited to be third liners.

    In order to become one of the elite teams in the NHL, the Canadiens have to take a step back over the next couple of years. They might not have to rebuild from scratch because they do have key pieces, but the roster definitely needs a lot of work.

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.