The Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres had a preseason line-brawl on Sunday night that left more questions than answers. Here’s a brief primer on what went down:
Q. What sparked the line brawl at 10:01 of the third period?
Sabres coach Ron Rolston claims that a third-period fight between Corey Tropp and Jamie Devane was the catalyst for the later fun. Tropp had just scored for the Sabres when he lined up with Devane, who is five inches taller than him. They yapped, they bumped, they went at it … and Devane dropped Tropp, knocking him out and bloodying the ice.
Q. Why the heck was Phil Kessel lined up next to John Scott, noted pugilist, after that fight?
Scott was out for the next shift, obviously looking to avenge Tropp, whom he was on the ice with in the previous shift when Tropp was tuned up. Carlyle opted to keep 6-foot-5 Troy Bodie (who fought earlier in the game) on the Leafs bench, hoping that by putting Kessel, Tyler Bozak and Carter Ashton out there that the situation would be “defused.” As the coach told TSN: “Obviously, I was wrong.”
Q. Why wasn’t Leafs goon Colton Orr out there to save the day?
Orr’s injured, nursing a bone bruise in his leg.
Q. OK, but why did Scott go after Kessel of all people?
Kessel said Scott told him he was coming after him. Scott claims he “joked” to Kessel he was coming after him, per James Mirtle. Only he totally did. Ha. Ha. Ha ...
Q. Which players squared off in the line brawl?
After Scott went after Kessel, and Kessel retreated with a series of slashes, David Clarkson left the Leafs’ bench to fight Scott. Bozak fought Chad Ruhwedel (his first career fight) while Andrew MacWilliam fought Buffalo’s Mike Zigomanis, who skated with the AHL Toronto Marlies for years. Drew Bagnall of the Sabres squared off against Carter Ashton. Kessel, meanwhile, battled Brian Flynn and bloodied him. And, of course, Jonathan Bernier and Ryan Miller fought.
Q. How many penalty minutes did the brawlers earn?
There were 211 penalty minutes handed out in the brawl, including three game misconducts for Scott, Bernier and Miller. Kessel received a match penalty.
Q. Had either Miller or Bernier fought before?
No, according to HockeyFights.com. And getting punchy after getting run over by the likes of Jordin Tootoo doesn’t count for Miller.
Q. Clarkson left the Leafs bench to fight; what does he get?
An automatic 10-game suspension, as per NHL rule 70.10: “The first player to leave the players’ or penalty bench during an altercation or for the purpose of starting an altercation from either or both teams shall be suspended automatically without pay for the next ten (10) regular League and/or Play-off games of his team.”
Q. How does that affect the Leafs?
Clarkson’s cap hit will remain on the Leafs’ cap through those 10 games, as per Bill Daly’s clarification of the CBA’s rules on how those salaries are treated (s/t Mirtle). Also, one of their prized free-agent acquisitions will miss roughly one-eighth of the season for getting involved in a preseason line brawl from the bench. Genius! Check out more on the Leafs cap under a Clarkson suspension from Chris Johnston. http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/johnston-leafs-brawl-will-affect-the-bottom-line/
Q. Kessel got a match penalty for slashing; what does he get?
Most slashing incidents have resulted in a fine from the NHL under Brendan Shanahan. He’ll be gone for the Leafs’ remaining preseason games (three) for sure; a match penalty for slashing carries an automatic one-game ban as well. Will he get more? Tough call.
Q. When do these lovebirds meet again?
Friday, Nov. 15, in Buffalo. Be there!