COMMENTARY| Typically, there are few things more entertaining in hockey than a goalie fight. The sight of two guys, encased in oversized padding, trying to throw a punch or two, before bear hugging and falling to the ice is similar to watching a sumo wrestling match on ice. It's not natural and, therefore, guffaw-worthy. Friday's match, however, between Washington Capital's goalie Braden Holtby and Philadelphia Flyer's netminder Ray Emery was neither funny nor entertaining to most Caps fans, who watched in horror as their goaltender took a tremendous beat down.
Holtby had originally declined Emery's invitation to fight, but the Flyers goalie didn't want to take no for an answer and warned the Cap player to "Protect yourself," according to the Sporting News. He then proceeded to pummel Holtby, who never stood a chance. What infuriated Caps fans and players the most was the fact that Emery landed numerous blows to the back of Holtby's head, which could have resulted in a concussion or other significant injury. At the time of the fight, Holtby was having a stellar night between the pipes for the Caps, who were leading 7-0.
Ironically, two Flyer players were injured in fights during the game, including Steve Downie, who suffered a concussion, during his brawl with Aaron Volpatti. The other injured player was Vincent Lecavalier, the Flyer's top point and goal scorer, who suffered facial injuries during a fight with Steve Oleksy.
After the fight, the Washington, DC area television announcing crew of Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin as well as the team's radio play-by-play announcer John Walton all speculated that Emery would probably be suspended for skating down the ice and pummeling a player for no good reason. But, as everyone learned Saturday, Emery received no supplemental discipline for his actions. Why? Because there are no rules in the NHL playbook for suspending a player who beats up an unwilling combatant, according to SB Nation.
Although it was fortunate that Holtby was not seriously injured during the fight, no team wants to see its starting goalie in such a situation. While fights are part of hockey, should a goalie - minding his own business at the other end of the ice - be forced to take this type of beating? Or should the league consider outlawing this type of behavior? At the very least, shouldn't the linesmen or ref have stepped in to stop it? Instead, at least one can be seen warning Caps players from trying to help their goalie. Hopefully, the NHL will figure out a better way to handle this the next time a goalie, who declines to throw down his gloves, is put into a position where they could be seriously injured in a fight.
If you haven't seen the fight, check out popular Caps blog site Russian Machine Never Breaks for some awesome GIFs and video.
Jane Ellis has been a freelance reporter for a number of years as well as a former editorial production manager at 4-Wheel & Off-Road Magazine. She is a season ticketholder who has followed the Washington Capitals for approximately 20 years
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Braden Holtby
- Ray Emery