One night after participating in one of the longest, most ridiculous shootouts ever -- an event that climaxed with Paul Ranger's absurd kick-a-stick attempt -- the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres found yet another way to make the preseason interesting.
Sunday night's rematch, a 5-3 win for the Leafs, saw blood both bad and literal all over the ice, with a crazy scene breaking out midway through the third that featured, in order, John Scott going after Phil Kessel and taking a couple two-handers to the legs, a 10-man brawl, Jonathan Bernier squaring off with Ryan Miller (!!!), and, the grand finale, David Clarkson leaving the bench to get in on the action, earning himself an automatic 10-game suspension in the process.
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So much to talk about. Let's do it in chronological order. First, the Kessel incident.
Kessel received a match penalty for intent to injure thanks to the slash on Scott, which carries with it an automatic one-game suspension. I can't say I disagree with that. Regardless of the situation, two-handed slashes of that sort deserve supplemental discipline. He could sit multiple games and he'd deserve it.
Granted, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. John Scott going after Phil Kessel, which started this entire fray, is about as ridiculous and cowardly an act as you're going to see. Of course, that's all John Scott is in the NHL to do, leading one to wonder why he's here. Basically, he's that guy you bring to a party who always gets the cops called until someone asks why you always bring that guy to the party.
Yeah. I don't have much time for fighting. That said, it's tough to stick to my guns on this point when two goalies go at it, because as much as I prefer my hockey games punch-free, I find goalie fights incredibly amusing.
Jonathan Bernier's been compared to Felix Potvin before. This will do nothing to discourage those comparisons.
Good call on his part, too. Considering Randy Carlyle's love of facepunchers, winning a fight -- and I'm definitely giving the decision to him after that flurry of rights -- is probably the best way to wrest the starting job away from James Reimer.
As for Miller, one assumes his motivation for accepting Bernier's challenge was releasing some of the anger he felt after surrendering four goals, not to mention realizing that, after the game, he'd be on a flight back to Buffalo.
Finally, a word on David Clarkson's decision to leave the bench, which accomplished nothing and automatically puts him in a position to accomplish exactly that much for the next 10 games. He'll be eligible to return against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 25. We turn things over to Ryan Miller:
Ryan Miller on David Clarkson: "Probably not the brightest move by him."
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 23, 2013
Randy Carlyle didn't have much to add. "I think Dave Clarkson made a mistake," he said. "Now we pay for it."
Speaking of payment, Clarkson will forfeit upwards of $500k for this suspension, so if you thought the Leafs overpaid to get him, I guess you can rest a little easier now. Unfortunately, the money still counts against the cap, so they still can't afford to pay Cody Franson.