NHL

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Old-fashioned line brawl talk of town in T.O.

Leafs' Clarkson fined $269,230 for coming off bench to join fray

  • Print
The Maple Leafs' David Clarkson looks up in the middle of a battle with the Buffalo Sabres Sunday. Clarkson was suspended 10 games for leaving the bench to fight.

FRANK GUNN / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

The Maple Leafs' David Clarkson looks up in the middle of a battle with the Buffalo Sabres Sunday. Clarkson was suspended 10 games for leaving the bench to fight.

TORONTO -- It was an old-school scene that is a rarity in today's NHL, a wild rock-'em, sock-'em melee that included a player leaving the bench to join the fray and even a goaltender fight.

The pre-season scrap between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night brought back memories of hockey yesteryear, when players dropped the gloves first and thought about their actions later.

The rumble was the main talking point when the Maple Leafs resumed training camp with a one-hour practice Monday at the MasterCard Centre.

Tension rose a night earlier when Toronto's Jamie Devane emerged victorious in a fight with Buffalo's Corey Tropp. John Scott then dropped his gloves to tangle with Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel, who didn't engage and instead swung his stick at the Buffalo enforcer's ankles to fend him off.

The Maple Leafs quickly moved in to protect their teammate -- including David Clarkson off the bench -- and the melee was on. A mildly interesting pre-season game suddenly had hockey fans circling Nov. 15 on their calendars for when the Atlantic Division rivals next meet.

Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle said he erred by putting Kessel on the ice after the Devane-Tropp fight.

"Obviously I made a mistake but I never believed in my wildest dreams that the attack would come directed at that type of player from the opposition," Carlyle said. "But I was wrong."

Scott is a mountain of a man at 6-8 and 270 pounds. It didn't take long for the Maple Leafs to move in and prevent their sniper from feeling Scott's wrath.

"I think every single guy on our bench was looking to jump out there," said Toronto centre Joe Colborne. "You see a mismatch out there and you don't want to leave your teammate out to dry. I think there was about 15 of us sitting on the bench who were trying to climb right over.

"But then you have to sit back and kind of grab each other and collectively try to hold back. It's an unfortunate situation for sure. Nobody wants that, but it's done now and we're just going to have to accept whatever the league says and move on."

Clarkson didn't hold back and got an automatic 10-game regular-season suspension for his efforts. He'll forfeit $269,230.80 of his salary and won't make his regular-season debut until Oct. 25 in Columbus.

"In the situation, I think that he felt that there was an advantage being taken by their player," Carlyle said. "It was poor judgment and he did what he did and there's no way to defend it. You just accept what went on and move forward."

Kessel, who was issued a match penalty, was likely to receive further discipline for his stickwork.

"It's self-defence, really," said Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri. "What's he going to do? (Scott's) a pretty big boy. He dropped his gloves right off the draw so Phil had to defend himself. I'm actually surprised he didn't whack him a little higher.

"Phil's just trying to defend himself and put himself in the best position possible for someone else to get in there. I think we stood by each other pretty well."

Neither Kessel nor Clarkson spoke to reporters after Monday's skate. Clarkson was the team's big free-agent signing in the off-season, inking a seven-year deal worth US$36.5 million.

The obvious negative from the incident is that the Leafs could be short-handed when the regular season begins Oct. 1. The potential positive is the galvanizing effect a brawl like that can have on a team.

"I think it's good," said Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier. "Obviously we don't want any suspension to start the season. But the main thing is that everyone stepped up for each other. That's the main thing."

Bernier and Sabres netminder Ryan Miller capped the proceedings with a rare goaltender bout. They exchanged punches away from the main scrum as the Air Canada Centre crowd roared its approval.

When order was finally restored, gloves, sticks and equipment were strewn across the ice and the team benches were noticeably depleted. When all was said and done, the teams combined for 239 penalty minutes and Toronto won 5-3.

The 25-year-old Bernier said his last fight was back in his junior hockey days. He felt a need to do something when he saw Scott make a move on Kessel.

"When a play like that happens on a faceoff -- a tough guy against a skilled player -- I don't think it's acceptable," Bernier said. "I just think it was the right play for me to do."

Kadri said it was hard to stay put on the bench with everything that unfolded on the ice.

"I guess emotions just kind of flare," he said. "Loops (forward Joffrey Lupul) actually had to drag me back on the bench. I tried to get a hold of (Clarkson) but he was up and at it. So it was a bit of a tough play, tough decision-making, and we all understand it happens sometimes."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 24, 2013 C3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Bombers This Week: It's must win time

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A red squirrel peaks out of the shade in a tree in East Fort Garry, Sunday, September 9, 2012. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Winnipeg’s best friend the dragon fly takes a break at English Gardens in Assiniboine Park Wednesday- A dragon fly can eat  food equal to its own weight in 30 minutes-Standup photo- June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Which Jets prospect has the best chance of making NHL team this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google