You hear it all the time, "Who cares! It's preseason, the games mean nothing!".
Tell that to the members of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres.
The game itself was rather tame for the first two periods last night, but all hell broke lose in the third period after a fight between Leaf tough-guy hopeful Jamie DeVane, and Sabres winger Corey Tropp.
The fight was a complete and utter domination by DeVane, who landed numerous right hands on Tropp's face. The knockout blow came when DeVane switched hands and landed a left hook off of Tropp's noodle, collapsing the Sabre forward to the ice. Tropp nailed his head on the ice and was bloody mess in the aftermath, likely suffering a pretty serious concussion as a result of messing with the wrong guy.
DeVane outweighs Tropp by almost 30 pounds and has 5 inches of height on him. However, was DeVane fighting Tropp breaking one of the fighting codes? The code: Fight a guy your own size.
The fight itself was started by Tropp, who was looking to light a fire under the Sabres. He messed with the wrong rookie though, as DeVane sent him to the cleaners. Fresh towels, hot water, and a date with "Doctor Stitches" awaited Tropp upon his arrival to the locker room.
After a TV timeout, that was when the game took a wicked turn for the worst.
In an attempt to escalate the situation, Sabres coach Ron Rolston decided to put out the biggest waste of roster space in the NHL, John Scott out there to avenge the beating Tropp received.
Randy Carlyle, who owned the final change, decided to put sniper Phil Kessel on the ice, hoping to calm the situation down.
What happened was pure bedlam though. Scott warned Kessel he was going to jump him, and proceeded to do so when the puck was dropped. Scott has over 70 pounds, and nearly a foot of height on Kessel, but that didn't stop the goon with one career goal from going after one of the NHL's most prolific goal scorers.
Kessel, in an attempt to protect himself, tried to slash the behemoth down at the legs. His attempts proved to be futile in knocking the giant down, but teammates Carter Ashton, TJ Brennan, Tyler Bozak, Andrew MacWilliam, David Clarkson (who left the bench to enter the festivities), and even goalie Jonathan Bernier came to the aide of the Leafs superstar sniper.
Kessel to his credit, laid a beating on Sabres forward Brian Flynn, leaving the forward bloodied and again needing repairs.
The aftermath of the situation has everyone talking about how long Clarkson is going to get suspended for leaving the bench, and how long Kessel will get suspended for using his stick as an axe.
But the real story should be what kind of stance will Gary Bettman and Brendan Shanahan take on this situation. Do they cop out and suspend Clarkson the 10 games that everyone expects him to get, and suspend Kessel for a few games of the regular season?
Or do they do what they should do and suspend John Scott for 15+ games and ban the coach as well (not forever, but at least a few games).
The NHL is promoting the skill, speed and finesse of the games top players. Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos to name a few. By making Clarkson the more lengthy suspension, the NHL further promotes going after the games best players and not having anyone there to keep things in line.
My question to all of you is, had John Scott jumped Sidney Crosby, would the situation be different?
My answer is ABSOLUTELY. Crosby, who has a history of concussions, is likely the NHL's best pure point producer. Having his skill removed from the game by a guy who couldn't hack it in Beer-League Hockey would be the real travesty to the game.
In the grand scheme of things, the NHL better be more vigilant on guys like John Scott, who targeted one of the games best players and looked to lay a beating on the smaller forward.
It's in the NHL's court now, and the suspensions will come down soon. Hopefully for their sake they don't drop the ball here. Not only should John Scott be suspended, but the coach should be too. Clarkson will get his time, and Kessel will likely too. But if Scott and Rolston go unpunished, that will be the real travesty of the situation.
Feel Free to comment and thanks for the read.