If you’ve been paying any attention to the NHL this week, you’ve no doubt heard of Colorado Avalanche No. 1 netminder Semyon Varlamov and the domestic violence charges that are against him. Well, he may not be the only goalie in the league guilty of assault.
Last night, all Hell broke loose as Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Ray Emery lost his cool in the third period of a 7-0 shutout loss to Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals. After starter Steve Mason allowed three goals on 17 shots, Emery took over, allowing an additional four on 15 shots. With former Minnesota Wild draft pick Joel Ward completing his hat trick at 5:23 of the period, a line brawl would ensue just eight seconds later, and there was apparently no better time for Emery to vent his frustration than right at that moment.
Emery charged Holtby, who saw no point in engaging the hot-head, and quickly proceeded to clean his clock. And why not? I mean, who does this young Capitals upstart think he is stopping all 30 shots faced? How dare he! Didn’t anyone tell him he isn’t supposed to stop every puck that comes his way? Clearly Holtby deserved a clobbering.
Here’s the thing. Fighting has had, does and always will have a place in the great game of hockey. But this wasn’t just two grown men agreeing to drop the gloves, and the following tweet from the Pittsburgh Tribune’s Dejan Kovacevic confirms it.
Emery: “He didn’t want to fight. And I said, basically, ‘Protect yourself.’ He didn’t really have much of a choice.” Translation: ASSAULT.
— Dejan Kovacevic (@Dejan_Kovacevic) November 2, 2013
If you’ve seen the footage, it’s easy to see it was nothing short of an unprovoked beat-down by one of Philly’s newest “Broadstreet Bullies”. Holtby clearly didn’t want any part of it, because he had nothing to fight about and wasn’t directly involved in the original skirmish that set off the line brawl. All he was doing was his job, and Emery chose to punish him for it.
Notice the repeated blows to the base of the back of Holtby’s head. Disgusting. Yet fans can’t help but cheer and cheer as they call for more.
That wasn’t a fight, folks–it was an assault in the purest form–making Emery essentially just as bad as Varlamov. But we blow it off because “it’s part of the game” and didn’t happen off the ice. The fact that it happened on the ice is the only thing keeping law enforcement off it. It’s okay to conduct a criminal investigation on an unfortunate hit by a 6’9″ player that can’t help being his size, but it’s not okay to do the same for a guy that undeservedly pounds the snot out of another player just because he’s upset that it’s just not his night in net.
That embarrassing display by Emery isn’t a part of the game I know and love. Nor should it ever be.