The NHL returned over the weekend to sold-out arenas and record opening-day television audiences. It also returned to fighting. The first 21 games...
The NHL returned over the weekend to sold-out arenas and record opening-day television audiences. It also returned to fighting.
The first 21 games of the lockout-delayed season featured 12 fights, including three that took place no more than two seconds after the opening faceoff.
On Monday afternoon on Long Island, Matt Martin of the New York Islanders threw down his gloves and fought with B.J. Crombeen of the Tampa Bay Lightning. A few feet away, the Islanders’ Joe Finley fought Pierre-Cedric Labrie. Both fights took place a second after the opening draw.
On Sunday night at the New York Rangers’ home opener, Arron Asham fought the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Tanner Glass two seconds after the game began. They stood toe to toe for nearly a minute, throwing 45 punches and landing 20, according dropyourgloves.com.
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None of the three fights was in retaliation for a previous collision or to protect a star player. The players involved, all frequent fighters, were inserted into the opening lineup by their coaches.
Once on the ice, they simply asked each other and then dropped their gloves. And they were frank about it afterward.
“I asked him when we lined up, he agreed, and away we went,” Asham said. “All fights are to try and get your bench going, get the crowd into it.”
Martin said pretty much the same thing.
“We saw what their starting lineup was before we went on the ice, and me and Fins wanted to get the crowd going early,” he said of Finley. “I think we did a good job of that.”
The players’ association has resisted having rules that sharply curtail fighting partly because such measures would cost certain players their jobs.