Hockey is a strange game to those who are unfamiliar with it. It is the only major professional sport where fighting is considered an "accepted" part of the game, even if it results in a five minute penalty for players who decide to drop the gloves.
Like any sport, there are "rules" to hockey fights, which are now commonly referred to as "The Code". "The Code" includes guidelines like don't sucker punch someone when they aren't looking and that players who make their living fighting (known as "enforcers") don't fight superstar skilled players who rarely or never drop the gloves. That's the hockey equivalent of a 10th grader beating up a 5th grader in the school yard.
That brings us to Thursday night's game between the Flyers and Rangers in Philadelphia. The Flyers Daniel Carcillo, one of the game's better known enforcers, attacked New York's Marian Gaborik, one of the league's leading goal scorers.
Last year, Carcillo was ranked fourth in the league with 22 fights according to hockeyfights.com. Gaborik had one prior fight in his nine-season 551-game NHL career.
After the game, Carcillo had the nerve to claim that Gaborik dropped his gloves first. "I didn't really expect to fight who I fought, but it kind of worked out," Carcillo said. "I don't know who on that line would have been able to help him though. I wasn't expecting him to drop his gloves, but when he did, I pretty much was licking my chops."
The replay does not clearly show who dropped their gloves first. But it does show that during a scrum, Carcillo grabbed Gaborik around his neck, rubbed his gloved hand in his face and then punched Gaborik in the face while his gloves were still on. Then both players dropped their gloves and Carcillo proceeded to pummel Gaborik in a one-sided "fight". Carcillo landed at least seven punches, Gaborik didn't land any and ended up on the ice.
You can view the incident here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Prk2Lojjmbw
It is to the Rangers detriment that nobody on their team came to the defense of their superstar when the incident occurred although Sean Avery came after Carcillo later in the game. You aren't supposed to let your best player get picked on. But Carcillo had no business attacking Gaborik. It was, in hockey terms, a cowardly act.
Rangers' Coach John Tortorella was livid after the incident and after the game. "There's no honor in that," Tortorella explained. "I don't play the game, I don't wear the uniform, I don't want to say too much but there's simply no honor in it at all. It's pretty embarrassing."
When a reporter added that Carcillo said he was "licking his chops" at the prospect of fighting Gaborik, the Rangers' coach added sarcastically, "Wonderful, he's a brave guy, a brave guy."
In the end, Carcillo won the fight and the Flyers won the game 2-0. Rest assured the incident will be revisited when the two teams meet again March 14th at Madison Square Garden. But along the way, Carcillo showed one thing. He may be a tough guy, but he can also be a punk.
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more