October 13, 2011
On Thursday night, Arron Asham(notes) of the Pittsburgh Penguins had the most memorable KO of the young NHL season in a fight with Jay Beagle(notes) of the Washington Capitals, as he punched the Caps forward twice in the face to send him to the ice in the third period. Beagle was bloodied, dazed and eventually yanked his own tooth out (yikes) before heading to the locker room.
As repulsive as the aftermath was, some found Asham's reaction to the fight just as disgusting: Sliding his hands in front of him to signal a knockout (like an umpire declaring a base runner "safe"); and then putting his hands together as a pillow and placing his head down, ala wrestling star CM Punk's "Go To Sleep" motion.
"It doesn't surprise me. I'm not surprised by a lot of things that happened. [Media relations director] Sergey [Kocharov] should probably listen to me talk here before I go stupid. Just some of the comments by their fans and stuff is just unbelievable. It's classless. But I know that happens in fights. It's really crappy to see. Have some class a little bit, ya know?"
When asked about the controversy following the Penguins' 3-2 OT loss to the Capitals, Asham … agreed with Alzner, actually.
That in the heat of the moment, in front of a crowd of rabid fans in a rivalry game, he did something he regrets in hindsight. Via Root Sports, Asham said:
"It's unfortunate the way the fight ended. I obviously want to win but I don't want to go out there and hurt anyone. My gestures after it was done … I was into the game. It was uncalled for, classless on my part. I think that those guys over there know that I'm not that kind of guy to be going off.
"But it was a big game. I wanted to get my bench going. Classless move on my part."
His coach, Dan Bylsma, believed Asham said all he needed to say. "I think Arron's comments are spot on," he said after the game. "It was the heat of the moment. Emotions got the best of him. He wishes he could have them back. He stuck up for a teammate but I don't think anybody liked what ensued after that."
Now, the NHL generally frowns upon taunting. It threatened the Bruins and Canucks for the Burrows-inspired finger waving in the Stanley Cup Final. Before the 2010-11 season, it spelled out its taunting policy in a video to players:
"Any identifiable player who uses obscene, profane or abusive language or gestures directed at any person runs the risk of an unsportsmanlike penalty and possible supplemental discipline."
Hence some of the hand-wringing over Asham. Is self-identifying classless behavior enough to avoid any potential discipline from the league?
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