When Phil Kessel backed away from John Scott and started hacking at his leg with his stick like he was using an axe to chop down a tree, you knew the following minutes would be exciting.
For those who didn’t see the Leafs forward get his match penalty (and eventually a three-game suspension) for going after Scott’s ankles, you should Google it.
Scott allegedly told Kessel he was going to jump him off the faceoff so he backed up and started slashing him. As Scott dropped the gloves to grab Kessel, other Leaf players grabbed him.
Everyone grabbed a dance partner with all five players fighting or at least holding onto each other. Toronto added an extra man to the mix as David Clarkson came off the bench to go after Scott. With the NHL’s ruling on that being an automatic 10-game suspension I think it doesn’t take a genius to realize it wasn’t worth it. I’m sure at this point Clarkson even knows that.
If all that fun at centre ice wasn’t enough, Leafs goaltender Jonathan Bernier and the Sabres netminder Ryan Miller even dropped the gloves. Bernier said he just wanted to stand up for his teammates and even admitted that he really didn’t think Miller wanted to go. Overall the fans were going nuts and cheering all the fighting and, I mean, who wouldn’t be.
I know the NHL is trying to get rid of fighting and doesn’t want anything like the good ol’ Broad Street Bullies to come around again, but it’s old school hockey and fans love it. That was evidenced when the fans at the Air Canada Centre started chanting, “Go Leafs go” as the fights took place at centre ice. Many players and front office staff involved in hockey want fighting out of the game, but so many fans have a polar opposite opinion.
To top that off it was an exhibition game that the score doesn’t matter in. I’m pretty sure nobody remembers the score anyway because of all of this, but fans and players will certainly remember this game over the coming weeks. It won’t be just for the exciting melee, but because of what that does to the Leafs lineup.
Clarkson is not eligible to play until Oct. 25 when the Leafs play the Columbus Blue Jackets because of his suspension. Worth noting, the big-name acquisition from the offseason will also forfeit $269,230.80 of his salary.
With him on their roster, but suspended, his salary counts towards their salary cap. The main issue for Toronto now is that they’ll need a forward to fill his role, but financially they’re pushing the cap window.
Players on the Leafs roster, including James Reimer, said they admire him for standing up for a teammate, but hockey operation staff members are likely less than happy with what this means for them.
Everyone would’ve likely been proud that he stood up for Kessel if he was already on the ice, but the fact it’s costing him 10 games is something the organization is likely disappointed with. I know I’d be more than upset that he did it because of what they now have to figure out for 10 games roster-wise and the fact he really didn’t do much to Scott.
Overall I thought this was super entertaining and it’s great to see from time to time. I don’t like watching fight after fight every game because I really don’t see the point, but in a case like this I’m glad Kessel took some hacks at Scott.
If only Clarkson could’ve stayed on the bench.
I have to admit that Friday night wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. This wasn’t cause I was sitting at home with nothing to do, just to be clear.
Making the trip to Antigonish for the St. FX football game against Acadia, I expected a little more exciting of a game and environment. The X-Men were undefeated and were facing the winless Acadia Axemen, favoured to be the best team in the AUS this season.
I’m not saying I necessarily expected the X-Men to win or for there to be standing room only, but I expected it to be pretty exciting because it was my first AUS football game since going to watch Saint Mary’s play when I was in junior high.
Instead it was relatively quiet throughout the game, even in the first half. The X-Men were ahead 8-7 after the first quarter and trailed 10-8 at half. It was a close game, but the fans weren’t really into it the way I expected. I know many people who attend those games, amongst others at St. FX, and maybe they overhyped them, but I just didn’t feel any major excitement.
In the second half Acadia scored 30 points compared to St. FX’s three, so I can understand why the crowd dwindled in numbers, but I still can’t get over the first-half excitement. Maybe it’s better to say lack thereof.
Having attended the vast majority of games at both UNB and STU during my time at those schools I truly appreciate varsity athletics and the student-athletes who put their time into these sports, so I’m not trying to say their playing is in vain. I’m simply saying the excitement and atmosphere wasn’t really what I thought it would or should be.
Next time I hope it’s a louder and prouder crowd.
Christopher Cameron is the sports reporter for The News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NGNewsChris.