November 09, 2011
As we mentioned in Tuesday night's Three Stars, Nick Johnson(notes) of the Minnesota Wild was ejected from their game vs. the Calgary Flames at 13:41 of the second period for allegedly headbutting Jarome Iginla(notes).
Check out the incident, the aftermath and Iginla's locker room comments about it here:
How often do you see an NHL player turn and work the refs during a fight? For a second, we thought Iggy was trying to distract the officials so Anton Babchuk(notes) could sneak over and hit Johnson with a steel chair. That's what Ric Flair would have done ...
Anyhoo, Iginla was steamed after the fight — his 'get outta here' hand motions while sitting in the penalty box were quite amusing — and then in the postgame media scrum, saying:
"It just felt I got head-butted. I haven't had that very often in a fight. I thought the refs made the right call, and that pretty much was the end of it. You just kinda get fired up in a fight, and I felt like he got me there a couple of times with the head. I thought the refs saw it, made the right call, and that was pretty much the end of it."
The Wild disagreed with the match penalty given to Johnson, and with Iginla's yapping at the ref during the scrap. From Michael Russo of the Star Tribune:
"I disagree with the call," Yeo said. "Jarome Iginla starts the thing, and then he calls it. He tells everybody on the ice that he head-butted him. All I saw was a guy trying to protect himself."
I would agree. Iginla lobbied for the call in the middle of the fight, then threw a tantrum in the box as he started screaming at Johnson, the refs and then smashed his helmet into the glass.
… Hey, it worked. The Wild had to kill the five minutes. Backstrom made eight saves during it. And the Wild had to play the rest of the game without Johnson, who was great to that point. He set up Powe's goal and drew the power play with a sensational shift that Dany Heatley(notes) scored on.
Obviously, the NHL has shown it has no tolerance for headbutting, as Patrick Kaleta could tell you. The match penalty carries with it an automatic suspension. Russo said he'd "be shocked if this isn't rescinded," and we tend to agree — this was incidental contact or a bit of in-fight maneuvering rather than a blatant headbutt.
But what say you? Butt or no butt?