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Did Ron Rolston deserve fine for Maple Leafs/Sabres line brawl role? (Puck Debate)

Greg Wyshynski
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On Tuesday, Buffalo Sabres head coach Ron Rolston was given an undisclosed fine for his role in the line brawl between the Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. From the NHL:

Buffalo Sabres head coach Ron Rolston has been fined for player selection and team conduct as a result of events that took place at 10:01 of the third period during NHL preseason game No. 61 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto on Sunday, Sept. 22.

The events took place during the face-off after Buffalo forward Corey Tropp fought Toronto forward Jamie Devane. Buffalo forward John Scott initiated an altercation with Toronto forward Phil Kessel, whom he was lined up against on the face-off, resulting in several fights. In total, 211 penalty minutes, including three game misconducts, were assessed due to the various altercations.

Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski and Harrison Mooney see this one differently, so it’s time for another Puck Debate:

Ron Rolston Should Be Fined (By Greg Wyshynski)

The problem with the NHL’s fining of Ron Rolston is that the League explicitly mentioned Phil Kessel in its press release, which muddies the waters. It’s not Rolston’s fault that Randy Carlyle decided to offer up Kessel as some pagan sacrifice to the goon gods – the Maple Leafs after all had the last change, and we’re probably (still) not talking about this had John Scott had gone after Troy Bodie.

But the fact remains that Scott was out there, looking to avenge Corey Tropp after Tropp was schooled in a fight against Jamie Devane, and all hell broke loose because of it. Allowing Scott to remain on the ice after that fight, for the next shift, means Rolston implicitly endorsed anything that might come of it. And since embarrassing (for the NHL) chaos ensued, he has to pay the ferryman now.

It’s not uncommon: Coaches like Jim Playfair and others have had to ante up when their players got out of control. The most prominent the incident, the more likely the fine. Every coach knows this.

Did Rolston do anything that wrong? No. In fact, he did what every coach in the NHL does at some point in the season, which is to send a message using whatever muscle they have on their bench by putting that player on the ice at a strategic time.

But if we’ve seen anything from the NHL, it’s a mandate for personal responsibility beyond intent. You may not have intended to hRolston didn’t intend for Scott to go after Kessel, or for their to be a line brawl. But he sure as hell didn’t do anything to avoid its possibility; and that, in the end, is what earns him a fine.

Ron Rolston Shouldn’t Be Fined (By Harrison Mooney)

The Toronto media can rest easy now, knowing that Ron Rolston has been fined for his role in the line brawl that broke out between the Leafs and the Sabres. His role, of course, was putting John Scott on the ice, and the NHL admitted as much, saying the fine was for "player selection and team conduct".

Player selection? There's now a time and a place to put John Scott on the ice, and with 10 minutes to go in a game where the opposition has the last change is apparently not the time.

Nevermind that Randy Carlyle is the one that opted to meet Scott with the Kessel line, or that the league continues to condone the existence of guys that exist solely to face-punch. Apparently now, if your face-puncher tries to punch the wrong face, you can be fined for letting him hop over the boards.

It's not completely unheard of for the NHL to make it up as they go along, and obviously with the folks in Toronto screaming for something to make them feel better since Kessel is going to be suspended for Paul Bunyaning the most tree-like player on the ice, but this is one of the dumber things I've seen.

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