You see it happen every now and again that teams mixed up in a blowout game will see tempers get hot and then everyone’s throwing off the gloves. You usually don’t end up seeing a full-on line brawl in the NHL anymore but this afternoon’s game between Edmonton and the Rangers in Madison Square Garden saw just that.
With the Rangers in control of the game up 5-2 midway through the third period, Sean Avery delivered a crunching hit to Colin Fraser along the boards. A big hit, but a legal one. Edmonton’s Ladislav Smid apparently took umbrage with Avery and asked him to drop the gloves. Avery said yes, and caught Smid with a quick right hand and dropped him to the ice. After those two were being wrangled up to be sent to the penalty box, and the game went to commercial break, upon returning to action all hell broke loose. You can see the video of the entire fiasco here.
After seeing what happened, Smid and Avery did a bit of talking and Avery seemingly was turning him down and then opted to go for it once action got deep enough down in the other end of the ice. While Avery was being sent to the locker room, Oilers defenseman Theo Peckham appears out of nowhere to have a word with him. NHL.com’s Dave Lozo gets the low-down from Peckham and Colin Fraser as to what they saw happen.
“I just watched my teammate ask a guy to fight,” Peckham said. “Avery said ‘No, no next shift.’ And as soon as Smider turned around, he sucker punched him. He skated by our bench laughing. I definitely made a mistake and went a little wonky, but we’re family and sometimes you have to make a stand for yourself.”
“It was a sucker punch,” Fraser said. “I think he had his chance, fair and square, 1-on-1 with (Smid). I could hear (Smid) with my own ears. ‘Let’s go, let’s go.’ Hey, if you don’t want to fight, that’s fine. You don’t have to fight. But you can’t punch the guy after you’ve already said no.”
Sean Avery and controversy certainly get along just fine. As for the whole penalty breakdown of what happened when everyone seemed to pair off to bring Fight Night back to MSG, take a look at this run down.
Also mixing things up were tough guys Brandon Prust and Zack Sortini, meanwhile Brian Boyle picked off Theo Peckham after he tried to get at Sean Avery on his way to the tunnel. Boys will be boys they say, right?
For what it’s worth, ESPN’s E.J. Hradek says that he’s hearing that there won’t be any suspensions coming out of this whole thing, but for one afternoon we had a throw back to the old days of hockey when things could bubble over at any moment and turn ugly. It’s brought a tear to my eye at least.