Mystery solved: NHL says Miller, Bernier should have gotten mask-removal penalties in fight

It’s gotten a little lost in the John Scott threatening/Phil Kessel slashing/David Clarkson suspending fun of the Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Buffalo Sabres line brawl from Sunday, but Ryan Miller and Jonathan Bernier had themselves a nice little goalie fight.

Here’s a fresher on that tilt:

Miller and Bernier both received 5-minute fighting majors, 2-minute minors for leaving the crease to fight and game misconducts for their part in the line brawl.

What they didn’t receive: 2-minute minors for removing their masks prior to the fight.

Please recall that the NHL has instituted a new rule that penalizes any player that takes off his helmet prior to a fight – a rule that led to the rather hilarious mutual lid doffing between Krys Barch and Brett Gallant.

When Miller and Bernier didn’t get rung up for that penalty in their fight, some wondered if goalies were somehow exempt.

Well, no, they’re not, according to the NHL.

Stephen Walkom, the NHL’s vice president and director of officiating, tells us that both goalies should have been penalized for the infraction but that the on-ice officials spaced on it, either because of the relative newness of the rule or the chaos that was ongoing in the brawl.

So, memo to goalies: You’re going to have to find your own Barch/Gallant loophole in the future.

By the way: Please note the irony in the fact that goalies were, until this season, penalized for starting a fight with their masks on.