The NHL regular season starts a week from Tuesday — but probably not for some of the players from Sunday night’s Toronto Maple Leafs-Buffalo Sabres exhibition game.
A huge brawl erupted — including that ever-popular sideshow known as a goalie fight — as a follow-up to an earlier bout, and at least the Leafs’ Phil Kessel and David Clarkson appear headed for league discipline. Kessel swung his stick at Buffalo’s John Scott, and Clarkson left the bench to join the proceedings. Both actions are certain to draw suspensions from the NHL.
Here’s a look at the mayhem:
Kessel, Toronto’s leading scorer last season with 52 points, isn’t inclined to fight. He’s never had more than 28 penalty minutes in a season and totaled 18 minutes in the truncated schedule last season. Scott, on the other hand, doesn’t mind throwing down. He had 69 minutes in 34 games last season. In addition, Kessel gives away eight inches in height to Scott, 6 feet 8. So he decided to quickly back away, whacking Scott low with his stick as he skated away.
”It was pretty stupid, right? He said he was going to jump me,” Kessel said, according to the Associated Press. ”What are you going to do? He’s a big boy, so if he’s coming after me, what are you going to do?”
Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said: ”We’re not proud or happy that went on, that’s for sure. I think Dave Clarkson made a mistake and now we’ll pay for it.”
As for the goaltenders’ bout between Buffalo’s Ryan Miller and Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier that so amused the game announcers, Bernier said: ”I just asked him if he wanted to go, and obviously I don’t think he seemed that he actually wanted to go, but that’s the way it goes. It’s a hockey game, but you get hyper in energy and I wanted to defend my teammates.”