220px-GoonfinalposterThe Philadelphia Flyers, having been completely destroyed by the Ovechkinless Capitals in a 7-0 loss on Friday, resorted to their Broad Street Bullies persona to answer being made to look like idiots. They’re already stinging from having their coach fired and being tied with Edmonton for second WORST record in the NHL. After goal seven, Wayne Simmonds touched off a line brawl that culminated in 114 minutes of penalties and five game misconducts.

For the record, I’m not one of the many people clamoring for removing fighting from hockey. The Flyers, however, and goalie Ray Emery in particular, have sharpened the weapons of the people making logical arguments that fighting has no place in modern NHL hockey.

The Incident

Once Simmonds dropped his gloves, Flyers goaltender Emery (having been lit up by four of the seven Caps goals), skated the length of the ice to “engage” Caps goalie Braden Holtby. The announcer on the below video note that Holtby is doing his best to “wave off” Emery, wanting no part of a goalie fight. The “Sack up, fighting is part of hockey” argument is prevalent and, truth be told, it is. Emery won’t be suspended because there is supposedly no rule against his behavior.

Much is made of “unwritten rules” and “honor” in our sport. That’s great, the tradition of hockey as a family sport and of hockey players as examples for our kids is something to be admired. Watch the pounding Emery lays on Holtby, you can’t make a logical argument it was honorable. If you subscribe to the notion the definitions of bravery and cowardice were played out by Emery and Holtby in this incident, save yourself some time and click elsewhere now.

It would be much simpler to make the argument Emery was acting like a physically overdeveloped child that was angry his counterpart at the other end had a shutout game, sending one Flyers goalie to the locker room and watching Emery let four pucks in his net.

Condone The Behavior

A zebra (referee Francois St. Laurent) stood by and made sure nobody came to the rescue of Holtby. One would think preventing needless damage to expensive goalies is somewhere in his job description. The ref is culpable, too. He didn’t have to call a penalty, even, just break up the beating that had no semblance of a “fight”. He could have even awarded Emery the “win” and everybody would be happy their testosterone levels were topped up.

Celebrate The Behavior

Emery was applauded by local wags either for his goon behavior or for his spectacular performance doing his job by letting in four of the fifteen shots sent his way. Applauded how? Emery was voted the third star of the game.

Yeah, Frank, it’s screwed up. Any other questions?

Wink At The Rules

After the game, Emery was unapologetic and defended his actions. Reportedly, no further action against Emery will be taken by the NHL. Reportedly, the decision to take no action is based on the fact there’s nothing in “the rule book” that covers his infraction.

What about Rule 27.6? Couldn’t that cover the situation nicely if the NHL wanted to penalize the behavior?

27.6 Leaving Goal Crease – A minor penalty shall be imposed on a goalkeeper who leaves the immediate vicinity of his crease during an altercation. In addition, he shall be subject to a fine of two hundred dollars ($200) and this incident shall be reported to the Commissioner for such further disciplinary action as may be required. However, should the altercation occur in or near the goalkeeper’s crease, the Referee should direct the goalkeeper to a neutral location and not assess a penalty for leaving the immediate vicinity of the goal crease. Equally, if the goalkeeper is legitimately outside the immediate vicinity of the goal crease for the purpose of proceeding to the players’ bench to be substituted for an extra attacker, and he subsequently becomes involved in an altercation, the minor penalty for leaving the crease would not be assessed.

Oh well,  “it is what it is” and we’ll move on. Before we leave, though, I think it’s noteworthy to mention Emery’s behavior is NOT applauded by the entire hockey community.

Stand Up And Be Counted

Untitled-3I imagine that being involved with the NHL, making your living very successfully for years with professional hockey, might make you consider simply keeping your mouth shut about a controversial subject. Honestly? I’m not sure I’d say anything publicly about it, it takes (to coin a phrase) balls.

Sean Burke is the Coyotes goaltending coach and the assistant to GM Don Maloney. Mr. Burke is not just the goalie whisperer secret weapon for the Coyotes, either. Burkie played eighteen years in the NHL and went to the All-Star game three times. He even played for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Sean Burke is the real deal. Lots of people know it, most of them acknowledge it. He’s admired for his talent and, in this case, for his fortitude and courage to say what he feels regardless of the controversial nature of the subject. Some would say THAT is the measure of a man, not how hard he can punch.

He felt strongly enough about this subject to actually Tweet, only his thirteenth tweet.

Hey, if you don’t believe Burkie, you HAVE to believe Pat Sajak!


I’d be willing to bet the next time something like this happens, there will be a different end result.