Starting goalie: Tuukka Rask
Starting goalie: Jimmy Howard
Starting goalie: Tuukka Rask
Starting goalie: Jimmy Howard
The Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings seemed to be in a fighting mood on Monday night, dropping the gloves three times in the first two periods of their game in the Motor City.
Things started early in the first period when Red Wings tough-guy Luke Witkowski, playing in his first game back since serving a 10-game suspension, dropped the gloves with Micheal Haley of the Panthers.
Have a look…
The two would square off once again in the second period.
Not long after the Witkowski-Haley rematch, Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and Red Wings forward Luke Glendenning took part in a rather vicious fight that left Glendenning bloodied on his way to the penalty box.
Given Ekblad’s history of concussions the Panthers can’t exactly be thrilled to see him taking part in a fight like that.
Ekblad is not much of a fighter, with Monday’s fight being just the third of his NHL career. It is, oddly enough, his second fight of the season with the first one also coming against the Red Wings.
Back in October he fought Justin Abdelkader.
Matt Martin would like you to know that he’s fine. That spear from the bench by Matthew Tkachuk during Wednesday night’s game? He didn’t even feel it. In fact, he wasn’t even aware of it until after Toronto’s 2-1 shootout win over Calgary when the media requested to talk to him about the incident.
It was during a late first period scrum in front of the Flames’ bench that Tkachuk jabbed his stick into Martin’s midsection.
That wasn’t missed by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, which announced that Tkachuk, who wasn’t penalized, will have a hearing on Thursday.
Martin, who didn’t want to offer an opinion on whether Tkachuk should be punished, did have some advice for the young forward.
“I guess if he’s going to do stuff like that he should probably make it count,” he said. “It’s whatever. That’s child’s play. I don’t really get involved in that kind of stuff.”
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock wasn’t a fan either.
“The guys told me in-between periods. I mean, whatever, that’s junior hockey stuff,” he said. “He’ll learn over time. You gotta give Tkachuk credit, he played a good game, he played hard. No reason for that stuff.”
Tkachuk, a well-know shift disturber around the league, has had a busy first few months of the season in the area of discipline. He was suspended one game in November for inciting a brouhaha between the Flames and Detroit Red Wings, which earned Luke Witkowski a 10-game ban. Just 10 days later he was on the receiving end of a Gabriel Landeskog cross-check to the head that caused the Colorado Avalanche captain to sit for four games.
Already holding repeat offender status, Tkachuk will likely find himself sitting out at least one game for this.
UPDATE: One game ban for Tkachuk.
The Detroit Red Wings felt like the punishment didn’t fit the crime as Luke Witkowski received an automatic 10-game suspension for returning to the ice during that line brawl with the Calgary Flames. How will they feel about Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk receiving a one-game suspension for his “crime,” then?
Tkachuk had a lot to do with the brawl, as Witkowski returned to the ice because of his actions.
This marks the second time Tkachuk’s been suspended by the NHL, as he sat two games for this hit on Drew Doughty, which ultimately served as the first chapter in his hate-fest with the Los Angeles Kings:
It’s fitting with such an agitating figure like Tkachuk that the decision stands as polarizing. Some are stunned that the NHL would tack on a one-game suspension after he was ejected for his actions during the 8-2 win for the Red Wings:
It wouldn’t be surprising if, meanwhile, the Red Wings believe that it wasn’t nearly sufficient. After the game, Postmedia’s Wes Gilbertson reports that Tkachuk said that Witkowski was looking for an excuse to return and that he just gave him “a poke.”
Apparently, this time, Tkachuk also poked the bear and will have to sit one game in timeout as punishment.
A sports league doles out suspensions and fines for a variety of reasons, including the hope that losing game checks might deter future bad behavior.
When it comes to the fans, many want justice, and that’s where things can get a little fuzzier. It’s especially interesting to consider areas of subjectivity vs. rules that are as plain as day.
One can see shades of the frustration that comes from the over-the-glass delay of game penalty in the reactions to Detroit Red Wings winger Luke Witkowski getting an automatic 10-game suspension for returning to the ice during that wild brawl, egged on by Matthew Tkachuk of the Calgary Flames.
Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill hit the nail on the head in that regard.
For Witkowski, it’s a painful lesson that he needs to find a happy medium between following the rules and engaging in “old-time hockey.”
“It’s unfortunate,” Witkowski said, via the Red Wings website. “Honestly, I didn’t know that was a rule. I obviously, I know now. I knew it was a rule you couldn’t jump the boards. It’s kind of a gray area with still being on the bench and the door being open. But lesson learned, I guess. Move on from here.”
The sad truth for Witkowski, 27, is that he won’t be eligible to move on in the form of a game until Dec. 9. And that’s assuming that he won’t get passed by as far as roster changes go.
Perhaps the silver lining is that other players might learn from Witkowski’s mistake and avoid drawing that automatic suspension. We’ve seen it before, such as with David Clarkson‘s delayed debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs, so there are some examples for NHL players willing to play attention.
Besides, it’s tough to miss a brawl like that, which you can watch one more time in the video above this post’s headline.
As far as Tkachuk goes, we’re still waiting to find out if he’ll sit a few games himself. He’s reportedly having a telephone hearing with the NHL to determine supplemental discipline.