Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia Flyers laid a punishing legal hit on Torey Krug in a game against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night. Kevan Miller stepped up and dropped the gloves with Schenn in yet another example of one of the problems the NHL should really try harder to get rid of: the “forced” fight.
This should be more of a priority than other things such as reduced goal scoring because I think it directly affects the integrity of the game. I can already hear the arguments that it’s some sort of code to stick up for your teammates and I’m definitely a team guy. As a hockey player I wasn’t afraid to crash the net or go in the corners. I wasn’t afraid to throw a big hit, and I certainly wasn’t afraid to take one. As more of a goal scorer with zero career fights I got my fair share of attention with sticks and greasy checks. I had great teammates and I’m pretty sure they were willing to go war for me, but I would never ask anyone to fight for me. I tried to help my teammates by walking away from that stuff, keeping my composure and taking the power play. I got much more satisfaction out of scoring a pp goal and smiling at the greaseball that took the stupid penalty as he did the skate of shame back to his bench than I ever would have trying to get a couple punches on him. Whenever anyone did fight for me, especially after a dirty hit, I appreciated it but I didn’t expect it after every single hit, and most times I wouldn’t have even wanted it. When I got my bell rung cleanly the thought of someone fighting the guy wouldn’t have even occurred to me. And whenever I threw a hit I wouldn’t have expected to have to fight to defend my right to finish a check. Yes, sometimes a clean hit looks dirty and if maybe 15-20% of the time a fight broke out on those I’d probably be ok with it. But when it happens so much that it’s pretty much the accepted practice it’s just one more case of players not having to man up and take a hit. There are too many rules already in place to make it almost impossible to throw a clean check in the first place. On the rare occasion where we actually get to see some solid contact and not have the world come to a halt because of it, it would be pretty special if everything didn’t stop because a teammate decided to perform a mugging to keep some sort of nonsensical bro code.
There was no penalty assessed to Schenn for the clean hit, so at the very least there should be an instigator penalty on Miller for starting the fight. As I explained in Why The Instigator Rule Has Its Place and I Told You So: The Instigator Rule, if they take away the instigator on plays after a penalty is assessed but keep the instigator in cases like this one where the original hit was deemed legal, if nothing else it would reward the team that did nothing wrong in the fire place, and it may also possibly deter players from jumping each other in the first place.