In Sunday's game between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers, Caps defenseman Steve Oleksy delivered a big open-ice hit on Claude Giroux that sent the Philly captain flying through the air. Of course, he had to fight in response.
Almost immediately after Oleksy delivered the hit to Giroux's shoulder, Flyers forward Jakub Voracek was jumping Oleksy. Yes, Voracek. It was his first career NHL fight -- one that you must declare him the winner of since Oleksy left with blood running down the side of his face.
And I remain miffed by the whole thing.
I understand that the old code in hockey determines that if you touch our star, you're going to be taken care of. I just find it stupid. Take a run at a player with a bad hit. OK, by all means go get your retribution. But make a hit on a player that is big but not dirty? Why should you have to answer to that?
In fact, earlier in the game, Caps defenseman Mike Green was being hounded after Max Talbot tried to make a hit on him and he moved out of the way. Talbot injured himself on the play, so Zac Rinaldo came over and had some words for Green.
But the code aside, it was a very costly penalty and was dumb in its own right just because of the result. Voracek received a double minor (for instigating with a visor) and a misconduct. The Capitals would go on to score two goals on the power play for a 4-2 lead.
The Flyers were able to overcome it with a game-tying goal with 9.5 seconds to go from Kimmo Timonen and then won it in OT. But considering the Flyers are chasing the Caps in the standings, they would have preferred Washington to get no points. Think it was a pretty big play?
That brings me to the next point of the absurdity of the penalty for instigation with a visor. The instigator penalty is controversial enough, isn't it time we got rid of the tack-on for guys in visors? We're at the point in which the league wants to see all the players wearing visors. It's a stupid rule at this point. It's got to go.
Overall, though, it's one of the problems with the code in today's game. The department of player safety has taken away much of the responsibility from players to police themselves. But at the same time, if a team on the ice does not respond the right way to an illegal hit, then they are roundly criticized. And as we saw in Buffalo last season, it can ruin a team. So you're asking players to judge in a split second what Brendan Shanahan watches in numerous replays.
In other words, while fights after legal hits do seem a bit ridiculous with the benefit of replay, it can be excuseable for the guys on the ice to react. It beats the potential problems if you don't respond. But the visor instigation rule? No excuse. Hopefully that one bites the dust and soon.