The most dangerous act in the Sabres/Leafs brawl

The most dangerous act in the Sabres/Leafs brawl

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Just before the game last night, the league announced that Phil Kessel was suspended for Tuesday’s game and the two remaining preseason games against Detroit this weekend for his extra two-handed slash on John Scott.

Scott got away with nary a fine. While he violated the main tenet of the unwritten hockey fighting code, and has no real business sharing an ice surface with Phil Kessel to begin with, he didn’t technically break any existing rules. In an effort to punish the other side of the fiasco – the team that, between Tropp goading Devane into a fight he never should’ve started and Scott dropping his gloves and chasing after Kessel, actually started the whole thing – the league discipline office handed down a fine to Sabres head coach Ron Rolston for his “player selection,” something that should really be retroactively applied to any coach or GM that ever allowed Scott a place on their roster along the path to where he is today.

Upon an additional replay of the whole sequence, I picked out something I found to be far more dangerous than anything Kessel did in the heat of the battle. I don’t condone two-handed slashes on anybody, even John Scott, when down on the ice, but Kessel was clearly of a different mind and very freaked out by Scott’s deranged behaviour. This would be a much different story if he swung higher, at the head (which, in this case, would also require jumping).

Anyway, here’s a closeup of what I’m referring to. Watch what #24 of the Sabres, Drew Bagnall does after coming in from behind and grabbing Ashton.

Grabbing someone from behind and trying to cold cock him while he’s unaware of an incoming punch, with a full (and I mean full) swing from behind is an incredibly dangerous act. Ashton was engaged in another battle at the time, was half-doubled over, and would’ve had no clue who was behind him; he wouldn’t have known it was a ref pulling him out of the fight, or if it was Drew Bagnall trying to end him. Thankfully, either Ashton dodged it or Bagnall swung so hard he missed, because that could have been a devastating blow. Afterward, Ashton turned around and took another punch from Bagnall, before socking the guy and taking him down to the ice.

Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of craziness going on in this fight and the Leafs were no darlings. But if we’re singling out offences, I’d say a swing with type of force and intent, from the blindside at a vulnerable opponent, was easily the most dangerous thing that happened in the chaos of the skirmish.

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Wednesday Morning Links…

Last night’s game recap from Michael Stephens.
Leafs lose their first preseason game in regulation.

David Clarkson explains his suspension
Pretty classy interview.

Shannahan’s explanation of the Kessel suspension
Shanahan draws on the slashes on Schenn in this video as well.

Tyler Biggs scores awesome goal in Marlies practice
The latest from Marlies camp courtesy of Jeffler.

Reimer stakes his claim; so does Bernier…and then those fights
Michael’s take on the goaltending duel, and if you haven’t read enough about them yet, the fights, too.

Rielly decision still no easier for Maple Leafs
If Franson doesn’t sign, it becomes pretty easy doesn’t it? At least for the first 9 games.

Transcription of the Kessel hearing
DGB’s latest.

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ICYMI, be sure to check out the latest episode of the Maple Leaf Hangout featuring guest Gus Katsaros.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]