David Clarkson received a ten-game suspension, Jonathan Bernier received a game misconduct and five other Leafs received ten-minute misconducts for their roles in a third-period line brawl that broke out during tonight’s preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres.
Clarkson was initially given a ten-minute misconduct for leaving the player’s bench to come to the aid of his teammate Phil Kessel, who was jumped off the faceoff by Sabres goon John Scott. It seems practically certain he will be receiving an automatic ten-game ban for leaving the player’s bench.
TOR’s David Clarkson will get auto 10 regular season game suspension for coming off bench to fight. No doubt about that one.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) September 23, 2013
The craziness began after a spirited scrap between Jamie Devane of the Leafs and Corey Tropp of the Sabres. In a scary moment, Tropp hit his head off the ice when he lost balance during the fight. I didn’t see any further update on Tropp’s status at the end of the game, but I obviously hope he is OK.
Scott apparently didn’t take kindly to Devane picking on the smaller Tropp, so he decided to drop his gloves off the faceoff and attempt to grab Kessel. Kessel retaliated by slashing Scott repeatedly before two Leafs engaged Scott, eventually wrestling him to the ice. Fights then broke out all over the ice, including a bizarre but entertaining fight between the two goalies, Bernier and Ryan Miller. Both netminders were sent to the dressing room after the scrap.
Here’s the full video of the fight, courtesy of MapleLeafs.com:
Obviously the biggest issue the Leafs have to face now is the automatic ten-game ban Clarkson will face when the regular season begins. I understand what he’s trying to do in coming to the aid of his team’s best player, but really, it was a pretty mindless move. Two Leafs had already engaged Scott, so Kessel wasn’t in danger by the time Clarkson “came to his rescue”. Clarkson’s salary will count against the cap during his suspension, and the Leafs will have to take on more salary to fill his roster spot, which doesn’t bode well for the team’s already tight cap situation.
Kessel could receive a suspension as well for his slashes on Scott. I think the first few slashes were clearly in self-defense, and players should be able to protect themselves from on-ice attacks. The potentially suspendable offense was when Kessel skated up to Scott and poked him with his stick minutes after the fight had ended and a referee was restraining Scott. It will be interesting to see how NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan decides to react to Kessel’s actions.
We’ll have the latest as more suspension news comes across the wire in the coming days.