Brian Boyle wanted to fight Justin Abdelkader at the end of Tampa Bay’s 2-0 loss in Detroit on Sunday.
That much was clear.
But Abdelkader wasn’t willing to go — for reasons unclear at the time — which led to Boyle busting out this chicken dance in Abdelkader’s direction:
Only afterward did the full explanation come out.
Turns out Abdelkader was not, in fact, chicken — he had his injured hand taped up and, per NHL Rule 56 (b), “any player wearing tape or any other material on his hands (below the wrist) who cuts or injures an opponent during an altercation will receive a match penalty under Rule 52 – Deliberate Injury of Opponents.”
“I would have liked to fight him,” Abdelkader said, per MLive. “I asked the ref if I cut him, is it a misconduct, and I already got one, so I got to be careful.
“Obviously, I want to stand up for myself, too, but this time of year when you got injuries and you’re banged up you got to be smart, too, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Just a few months ago, Rangers forward J.T. Miller was ejected from a game versus New Jersey for fighting Devils forward Sergei Kalinin with taped hands.
“It’s the call in the book,” Rangers head coach Alain Vingeault said afterward, per the New York Post. “If you’ve got tape above your wrist and the guy gets cut, it’s an automatic match penalty.”
Abdelkader, as mentioned, had already received a game misconduct earlier in the series, having been deemed the aggressor in a scrap with Mike Blunden at the end of Game 2.
So, he backed off.
As for his take on Boyle’s antics?
“It’s kind of funny, but if he wants to do that, that’s what he wants to show, whatever,” Abdelkader said. “It doesn’t affect me at all because I know what type of player I am.
“I stand up for myself when I’m healthy.”