FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. – It’s a long held belief that hockey teams can bond when they are on the road together.
The opposite, it would seem, might also be true — at least, once in awhile.
Winnipeg Jets defenceman Mark Stuart and winger Anthony Peluso had a disagreement at Wednesday’s practice at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, with the two dropping the gloves and pushing each other before teammates and head coach Claude Noel intervened prior to punches being thrown.
The incident lasted all of 10 seconds and the two teammates patched things up afterward, but the intensity was a welcome sign to Noel & Co. less than a week after he implored the club to crank up the attention to detail prior to last Friday’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
"It was nothing. It was just a hard, physical practice," said Stuart. "We were playing hard and we got into it a little bit."
Stuart paused for a second before saying with a smile about his dust-up with the team’s heavyweight: "I guess I felt like getting knocked out today, but I’m glad he was nice and didn’t punch me in the face."
"I see nothing wrong with it," he continued. "That stuff used to happen a lot more. It doesn’t happen too much any more, but that that stuff used to happen a least once a week years ago. There’s no issue there. We talked after, it’s all good.
"It’s too nice and sunny. It can’t all be beaches. You’ve got to switch it up a little bit."
Added Peluso: "He’s a pretty high-intensity guy in games and practice, that’s what he brings," said Peluso. "I’m a guy that likes to play on the edge as well and sometimes, that’s going to happen. We talked about it, it’s fine. Everything is good.
"The more guys you can bring with that intensity, the better it is for your team."
Noel wasn’t the least bit upset with the dust-up, especially if it translates into a solid performance in Thursday’s matchup with the Florida Panthers (6:30 p.m.; TSN-Jets/TSN 1290).
"That’s just competition. Peluso plays that way and it’s good he practices that way, he said. "(Stuart) is an intense player… that’s just a lot of love being shown between two players.
"Did you guys see me standing there trying to break it up? With the long extended arm going, ‘Help! Help! Somebody help me in here?!’ And then one of the goalies came in. It depends on the two people whether you let those things good go… it’s not usually good to see."
Noel also provided an update on injured left winger Evander Kane, who is out with a lower body injury.
"Evander is running through some different tests and things today," he said. "We would have a little bit of an idea of where we stand there (Thursday).
"It helps you to be able to assess him. It gives him comfort and us a direction on the therapy and some of the treatment we’re doing and are we heading in the right direction. IT’s just something we do with everybody after awhile if you’re seeing some improvement or not. It’s just covering yourself."