07 December 2009
When a fight starts is a lot trickery to define than "when both players drop their gloves." Unless there is a prolonged square off a lot of fights start when one player drops his gloves and starts punching. It's not usually an issue because the consequences of the first punch aren't usually as dire as they were for Matt Bradley on Saturday night. Take a look at some of Ian Laperriere's fights from just this season. They all start as a result of some close in contact and only one of the participants shedding the gloves and then the other follows suit. What's different for Lappy is that he starts with a jersey grab, whereas Daniel Carcillo starts all of his fights with a punch.
I don't think that I'm defending Carcillo here because in the end it was too close to the line. My first reaction was "I can't believe that happened" not that he was going to get in some serious trouble. And when I was asked right after I honestly thought Carcillo would get a 2 for the original cross check, which Jim Jackson announced was coming, and 5 min for fighting. I thought Bradley would get either 2 or 4 for roughing. I must have thought I was watching a WHA game.
Upon further review I became of the opinion that the fight was close to cheap, which in Daniel Carcillo's case is not usually going to work out in his favor. But I can see where he's coming from. He's a little crazy. He's a guy that makes his living punching people in the face. Fights for him probably start when the sound of the game and crowd are replaced by silence and the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. And then he saw something in Bradley's face that rung the bell for round one and he did what he knows how to do, what got him out of King City, Ontario and has him earning over $900k a year. Daniel Carcillo does not need a signed invitation.
What you personally think about this incident has everything to do with what you think about the Flyers, Daniel Carcillo, and fighting in general. As a Flyers fan you should be prepared to be in the minority when you say that it wasn't that bad. The fact is that Bradley was dropping his gloves and got nailed. If it was just Player A and Player B I'm not sure it'd be as big of a deal.
As a Flyers fan it's important for me to find a silver lining in this situation, especially in the midst of this 1-7 streak. And that might be that Daniel Carcillo learned a valuable lesson, but so did the rest of the NHL - don't engage him unless you mean it. Don't play games around him and try and goad him into penalties. Because even if he does take the bait, and even if your team wins the game as a result, all the penalty minutes in the world aren't going to put your face back together.
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