The New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils don't like each other. Actually, you could even say they hate each other. Need proof? Watch the video above.
As soon as the puck officially dropped to start their matchup, three fights broke out simultaneously. Ryan Carter vs Stu Bickel. Cam Janssen vs Brandon Prust. Eric Boulton vs Michael Rupp. In the modern NHL, it's rare you ever see more than one fight occurring at the same time let alone three beginning simultaneously off the opening draw. The end result was plenty of blood on the ice, overflowing penalty boxes and at least one angry coach.
Given the starting lineups deployed neither coach should have been surprised by what transpired. However, New York's John Tortorella didn't appear to be too pleased by what occured on the opening face-off, as evidenced by his screaming and glaring focused at the New Jersey bench. Tortorealla was furious that Pete DeBoer, head coach of the Devils, would send out his fourth line to create fireworks right off the draw. Ironically, Tortorella is guilty of the same offense. Following the game, DeBoer responded to Tortorella's comments by pointing out this very fact.
The anger seen above carried over from the two team's contest on December 20th when Tortorella sent out his enforcers to take the opening draw. Last night was DeBoer's response.
Tortorella's anger here is pretty silly. He has used this very tactic in the past. He countered it last night by having Stu Bickel, one of his large defenseman, take the opening face-off. Obviously, Bickel had no intention of actually winning the face-off.
What we witnessed was an old fashioned line brawl. Three fights all occurring simultaneously. It's enjoyable as a fan to watch but it is important to remember the danger involved. When these types of events break out, the officials are suddenly outnumbered and unable to keep tabs on each fight. If a player would have been seriously injured, the officials would have been unable to provide assistance as they were busy trying to separate one of the other scraps.
Events like this bring the discussion on fighting in the NHL back to the center of our attention. Do staged fights like this have a place in the game? Should they? If the NHL was to keep fighting in the game, how do they crack down on what we saw last night from the Devils and Rangers?
Offer your opinions/insights below.
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I'll start off by saying that I have nothing against the NHL keeping fighting. It's a grown man's game, they know the risks, and so be it. The solution to policing this seems pretty obvious to me: Much like the "third man in" rule, just start tossing around game misconducts for second and third fights while a fight is going on. If multiple start simultaneously, or close enough to it, don't bother trying to figure out which one started first, just pitch the lot of 'em. That would likely prevent the majority of such occurrences, though I wouldn't go as far as to say that it would solve the problem altogether. But in those situations where tempers have already flared, I don't know that anything is really going to stop the situation before it comes to a head anyway.
@miendiem This is close to my opinion. I personally want to keep fighting in the game but I don't like seeing multiple at the same time. I think you're on the right path that harsher penalties for multiple fights could be a viable solution.
As for staged fights, that's a tough one to deal with. Too much gray area.