Fight night: Should Emery be suspended?

Fight night: Should Emery be suspended?
November 2, 2013, 11:00 am
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Goalies brawl during scrum between Caps and Flyers

PHILADELPHIA – Boy, do we have a lot to talk about this morning following Friday night’s Thrilla in South Phila.

First things first. As of 10 a.m. an NHL spokesman informed me a hearing had not yet been scheduled regarding the brawl that took place between the Flyers and Capitals with 5:31 gone in the third period of the Caps’ 7-0 win

Now let’s get the debate started, in chronological order:

Downie goes down: Late in the second period of the Caps’ 7-0 pounding of the Flyers, with the Caps leading 6-0, the Flyers’ Steve Downie and the Caps’ Aaron Volpatti dropped the gloves and after some shirt-tugging, Volpatti caught Downie with a pair of hard lefts to the face. Downie hung on, then asked Volpatti to stop. Volpatti quickly loosened his grip on Downie, who was later diagnosed with a concussion and taken to University of Pennsylvania Hospital after the game.

My take: Volpatti followed the fighter’s code by immediately easing up on Downie, who was in a dangerously vulnerable position. As for Downie, a tough break for a tough kid playing his first game since being re-acquired by Philly.

Simmonds vs. Wilson: Not sure if he was encouraged to do so or simply wanted to make a statement, but immediately after Joel Ward scored to make it 7-0 at the 5:31 mark, Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds steamrolled Steve Oleksy then quickly dropped the gloves with Tom Wilson.

My take: Clean, hard fight. I would have expected the same thing from Wilson if the score was reversed.

Emery vs. Holtby: If you look at the video, six skaters [three from each team] are watching Wilson and Simmonds go at it when Ray Emery streaked down the ice, grabbed Braden Holtby, and started hammering him with a series of right hands. In fact, Caps center Michael Latta was giving Wilson a stick tap on the ice when Emery and Holtby engaged. To me, the biggest issue occurs at the start of the fight. Referee Francois St. Laurent tries stepping between the two goalies, but quickly steps back and lets Emery hammer away. St. Laurent actually has his hands on his hips watching Emery throw one right after another and when Latta comes in to help, St. Laurent plays traffic cop and prevents him from interfering.

My take: It can be argued that someone from the Caps has to jump into the fight between Emery and Holtby in an attempt to protect their goalie. But that only incites more of a riot on the ice. To me, the responsibility lies with St. Laurent. Once he sees Holtby in a vulnerable position, it’s his responsibility to separate the two fighters and prevent serious injury. If Holtby suffers a broken orbital bone in that fight, the Caps are more than just a little unhappy with the turn of events.

Schenn vs. Urbom; Oleksy vs. Lecavalier: Braden Schenn likes to scrap and when he grabs a non-fighter like Alex Urbom, the result is predictable. Urbom hung in there and took his licks. The same could be said about Vincent Lecavalier. Steve Oleksy has dropped the gloves far more often than Lecavalier and it showed. Lecavalier will sit out the Flyers’ game in New Jersey tonight because of damage done to his mouth in the fight.

My take: Once the goalies go at it, it seems like everyone is fair game.

The end game: It will be interesting to see how league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan handles this, if at all. Emery appears to be the only player facing a possible suspension. He left his crease and was penalized for it. He instigated a fight and was penalized for it. But Emery also provoked an unwilling combatant and has a history of doing so. It’s not like Holtby was waiting at center ice for him. The fact Emery skated the entire length of the ice and gave Holtby no choice but to fight could work against him and earn him a suspension.

Now it’s time for your opinions. What’s your take on what happened in Philly Friday night?

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