Buffalo Sabres: Brawl vs. Predators the Way Hockey Should Be


They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. It did Saturday night as Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller returned from a concussion.

The injury came from a hit to the head by Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic on November 12th. The Sabres did little to respond to the hit and expected the NHL‘s head of disciplinary action, Brendan Shanahan, to take care of Lucic.

However, no suspension was forthcoming from Shanahan, and although the Sabres did fight the Bruins twice in the next game, they got little to no satisfaction out of it.

Having Miller suffer a concussion from the hit didn’t help them out much either. Miller missed nine games and made his return Saturday night.

It didn’t take long to become an eventful return though, as with 4:46 remaining in the second period, Predators forward Jordin Tootoo left his feet to hit Miller.

Yeah, you read right. He left his feet…to hit a goalie.

Tootoo didn’t turn out to be as lucky as Lucic, however, as he ended up being at the bottom of a pile of Sabres, with fists flying, all directed towards him.

This is the point where you have people who don’t understand the sport talking about how “fighting shouldn’t be allowed in hockey” and “it’s a cheap attempt at getting ratings.”

That’s what we call “Horse Hockey.” Both of these incidents provide a perfect example of why fighting should be allowed, and even more-so why the instigator rule needs to be uplifted.

Lucic made a hit on a goalie that at the very least tip-toed on the line of what’s dirty and what isn’t. Regardless of whether you think it was dirty or not, in the moment, it’s something Miller’s teammates should have responded to.

They didn’t, and shortly after, Lucic walked away from the league with no suspension. In essence, Lucic got away with hitting a goalie at no consequence. No player made him feel at all threatened, and the league did nothing to punish him.

This is when players begin to think they can take runs at your players, and that’s exactly what Tootoo did.

This time, he didn’t get lucky like Lucic, and Buffalo finally went balls-to-the-wall and sent a message to any player who may think about taking a run at their players in the future.

That is exactly why fighting is allowed and should remain in the game. It keeps the players accountable to each other for their actions, and it deters actions like Tootoo performed on Saturday because he thought he could get away with it.

Jordan Matthews is a writer for the NHL and for the Detroit Red Wings. For more coverage, you can follow him on Twitter.

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