It's widely believed that the NHL is still looking into Sunday night's melee between the Maple Leafs and Sabres in Toronto. So far, Toronto forward David Clarkson has been the only player suspended. He picked up an automatic 10 game ban for coming off the bench to go after John Scott. There was no decision needed in that one.
There will be a difficult decision required on Scott and Maple Leafs scorer Phil Kessel. Between the two, Kessel is more likely to run into trouble because he was assessed a match penalty for his two handed swings at Scott. Instigating a fight and requiring physical restraint to vacate the ice are normally not suspendible offenses. However, given the explosion of activity, the league will presumably take a look. Scott came under heavy criticism for going after a skill player like Kessel. He offered his response on Monday.
"I would be (ticked) off if someone went after my star guy too," Scott told the media. "It's one of those things. Their coach didn't have to put Kessel out with me. He kind of knew what was going to happen. It's kind of obvious that I was upset and our bench was upset. It's what happened. Obviously Phil's okay. He probably came out the better end of it. I'm bruised all over my leg."
It is fortunate that no players were injured in that round of fights. The only fighting injury occurred to Corey Tropp, who's head was slammed to the ice on the previous shift by the bigger Jamie Davane. The Sabres have previously been criticized for a lack of response in similar instances. No matter what your opinion, everyone can agree that wasn't the case this time around.
"From our side, we felt like the fight prior with Tropper didn't end in a very classy way," said Ryan Miller. "No matter how they spin it in the media (Davane) asked Tropper to go. Tropper feels like he has to make the team. That guy's trying the same thing. We thought that was poor taste, definitely at the end. That's what we talked about afterwards.
"We all didn't feel like we had a chance to do something about it. I certainly didn't think I could do anything about it. John, that's obviously the first thing on his mind, is trying to do something and Kessel was standing right there. I guess it just got a little out of hand from there."
According to Leafs forward Nazim Kadri, this incident was mere seconds away from becoming a bench clearing brawl. Courtesy of TSN.ca:
"It's tough especially when you see one of your friends and better players getting taken advantage of," explained Kadri. "[Joffrey Lupul] actually had to kind of drag me back in the bench. I tried to get a hold of Clarky (David Clarkson) but he was kind of up and at it.
"Obviously (Clarkson) is a little bummed out, wishes things happened a little differently," said Kadri.
Kadri wasn't the only one who almost joined Clarkson in charging off the Bench at Scott.
"I think every single guy on our bench was looking to jump out there," Joe Colborne told TSN.ca.
Just imagine what that would have turned into. Tempers flaring so hot that a guy like Scott jumps a guy like Kessel, then three Leafs jump off the bench. You can bet we would have seen an old school brawl. As Ryan Miller noted in his post game tweet, it truly would have been old time hockey, Eddie Shore style.