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The Verdicts Are In From Leafs-Sabres Brawl-O-Rama

It's pretty safe to say that the Leafs and Sabres, after a weekend of two games, a 15-round breakaway contest and almost 300 minutes in penalties, have had just about enough of each other.

There's plenty of blame to go around for what transpired last night, but not everyone involved deserves it.  And there aren't many fans who will tell you it wasn't more entertaining than most games that actually count in the standings.

So, in all of its punch-throwing, stick-swinging, goalie-fighting "glory", here are your key suspects from last night's contest, complete with final verdicts:


There are a lot of people who think Tropp got what he deserved for challenging Jamie Devane, who is 25 pounds heavier and 4 inches taller.  I'm not one of them.  Tropp is one tough cookie for his size, knew full well what he was getting into, and was already involved in another fierce battle -- to make the Sabres roster.


The young 6'4", 220 pound Leafs bruiser had less of a shot to start the season in the NHL than Tropp did.  He was challenged, and there's nothing noble about turning down a fight in that situation when your job is at stake.  There has been talk about how Devane drove Tropp's head into the ice, but the replay doesn't prove that it was intentional.


Buffalo's enforcer was doing his job in stirring things up after the Tropp-Devane fight, but I don't think going after Toronto's top skill guy was the way to go.  The Sabres are trying to establish themselves as being a tougher team, but the optics of your monster chasing a little guy around the ice just aren't good.  Right idea, wrong target.
Verdict: GUILTY


Leaving the bench to defend a teammate who didn't need to be defended, in a preseason game, doesn't make you look like the brightest bulb in the room.  Clarkson is a quality impact player for the Leafs who will be missed -- for 10 games, that is.
Verdict: GUILTY


It's pretty incredible how much criticism Rolston has been getting from the Toronto media for sending Scott on the ice to challenge Phil Kessel, mainly because it's not even true.  It was tempting to give these writers their own space and find them guilty of failure to do some simple fact checking.


While I don't think it was a smart move for the Leafs coach to put Kessel on the ice next to Scott, I understand why he did it.  Don't agree with it, but understand it.  Since Carlyle played in the bench clearing brawl days of the 1970's, and amassed over 1400 penalty minutes in his professional career, I'd dare say that he can be given the benefit of the doubt on how to handle these situations.
Verdict: HUNG JURY


Ahh, yes, poor innocent Phil Kessel.  He rationalized the need to play lumberjack by telling the media that he was defending himself.  Funny thing is, he kept whacking at Scott's ankles even after the hulky Sabres forward had already been restrained by teammates and officials.  And, just to put icing on the cake, he came back at Scott again and speared him near the groin.

Self-defense?  Please.  Using your stick as a weapon wasn't acceptable even in the 70's, and it isn't acceptable today.
Verdict: GUILTY


Sometimes a goalie just wants to be included and thought of as "one of the guys".

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  Tags: "bernier+miller+fight", "corey+tropp", "david+clarkson", "jamie+devane", "john+scott", "jonathan+bernier", "kessel+stick+swinging", "phil+kessel", "ron+rolston", "ryan+miller"


J.J. from Kansas's avatar

It was tempting to give these writers their own space and find them guilty of failure to do some simple fact checking.

Except a fight is not an icing. Keeping the same line out as was there before the fight is a choice that Rolston made.

it was a poor decision and let in large part to the antics at play. Rolston is guiltier than Scott is in the same way the owner of a vicious pit-bull is guiltier of a mauling than the animal itself.  John Scott isn’t going to suddenly woo people into liking him by putting up points. His entire job as an NHLer is to start trouble and Rolston didn’t have to keep him out there during such an emotionally charged time.

So if you want to pedantically state people are wrong that Rolston PUT Scott on the ice after a stoppage of play, then have fun; the truth remains the effective criticism doesn’t change if you correct the sentence to read that Rolston KEPT Scott on the ice.

- - -

Other than that disagreement, I like this article. 


Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/23/13 at 12:45 PM ET

Its All Hockey's avatar

Loved the summary and agree (although I’m a Leaf fan I don’t agree with the stick swinging from Kessel). The verdict - the regular season is just around the corner!

Posted by Its All Hockey on 09/23/13 at 12:49 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

I’m glad someone else thought Kessel was gutless. Rolston is trying to make a name for his team, and pairing off Scott’s line with the Leafs skill line was stupid. I can’t defend Randy’s coaching or his teams, and I’d expect such a move (putting a goon on a skill guy)  from the Leafs now (or the Duh-ucks when he was there).

Scott punched at a still gloved Kessel. That’s a sucker punch situation. Either Rolston told him to or Rolston has so little control over his goon that in the end, it was bad coaching from Buffalo.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 09/23/13 at 12:50 PM ET

DocF's avatar

Bad coaching for Buffalo or not, the fact remains that Kessel continued well into the brawl to whack at Scott with his stick.  He even went to the effort to retrieve it to get in one or two more whacks.  He deserves and should get a long suspension.  But no one has ever accused Kessel of being a gutty player. 

I cannot believe how stupid, stupid, stupid David Clarkson was.  He earned his 10 games mandatory suspension.  Perhaps he is pleased that he will have to play fewer games for a lousy coach who believes in head hunting?

Both coaches should get at least a fine for letting things get out of control.  One cannot do it without the other.  In summary,  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 09/23/13 at 03:30 PM ET

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About The Sabres Observer

Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003.  He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene.  Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.

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Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]