Today, Wayne Simmonds faced the New York Rangers for the first time since taking a cross check to the head from Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh 8 days ago.
Video: 647 hockeyvids
The Rangers organization, including head coach Alain Vigneault, couldn’t believe the league didn’t suspend Simmonds for his attempted clean hit, forcing McDonagh to deliver a direct two handed blow to his skull with his stick.
Obviously everyone had this game marked on their calendars, looking forward to seeing how the Rangers would get their revenge. It didn’t take long either, as everyone’s favourite moderator, Dylan McIlrath, got in the ear of Simmonds (which luckily still works after the earlier incident) even before the puck was dropped. Simmonds obliged less than a minute in and a spirited tilt ensued with no clear winner.
I’m sure that fight satisfied a lot of people, but to me it was one of the most ridiculous things that just “had to happen” all season. Yes, Simmonds punched McDonagh after the cross check and apparently did some serious damage, but could you really call it a sucker punch? How did he not expect something in that moment?
Before you get on me for blaming the victim, I don’t really condone the punch. It was a penalty. But it wasn’t suspension worthy at all. Keep in mind that the “victim” himself should have been ejected moments before, and should have been suspended for his own viscous cross check. There’s a reason Simmonds was that upset, folks. He made his feelings well known. This punch wasn’t out of the blue.
There are at least four things that make this fight ridiculous:
1)The league could have easily prevented this by disciplining SOMEBODY. Whoever you think was in the wrong here, send some sort of message. McDonagh for the cross check, or Simmonds for the punch, or even both. A suspension, a fine, or forcing them to listen to a Nickelback album start to finish. ANYTHING to make a clear show of someone being right and someone being wrong. Instead, they left it to the teams and the players to decide who deserves what.
2)The fact that there was no instigator penalty or anything extra given to the Rangers. Obviously the Rangers initiated this fight. This ended up as the McIlrath-Simmonds fight. It could just as easily have been the Klein-Simmonds fight, or the Glass-Simmonds fight, or the insert-Rangers-player-here-Simmonds fight. The only sure thing in this fight was Simmonds. He was forced into a situation where he had to fight to protect himself where the league would not. At the very least, if you’re going to try and attract ratings by putting a guy willfully in harm’s way, reward him and his team with a power play.
3)After all the rage and hype, crying for a suspension and wanting Simmonds on a platter, one little tussle seems to have been enough to even the score. All of sudden because Simmonds was forced to man up, it’s considered that he’s done the honourable thing and paid the piper. Situation diffused. This is ridiculous in that Simmonds didn’t do anything that bad to have to fight 8 days later. It’s even more ridiculous in that if what he did was in fact so bad he should have been suspended, and McDonagh was hurt so badly the Rangers wanted retribution over a week later, no one should be happy the fight went the way it did. They should keep fighting him until he goes down, shouldn’t they?
4)PHILADELPHIA HAS JUST AS MUCH OF A RIGHT TO WANT REVENGE NEXT GAME AS THE RANGERS. Even if you think they don’t, maybe THEY think they do. After all, no one told the Rangers they deserved vindication for anything. They just decided it for themselves. Philadelphia could go after(and should go after) McDonagh whenever he comes back. Can you imagine what would happen if a Flyers player is all over him in warm up, then follows him around first shift and McDonagh feels he has no choice but to drop the mitts? Now imagine he gets popped hard in the head and goes down again. HOW COULD THEY DO THAT TO A GUY COMING OFF A HEAD INJURY?? FORCING HIM TO FIGHT LIKE THAT? HE COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED! OUTRAGE! But they apparently had every right to stalk Simmonds.