The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning did something incredibly entertaining (at least in theory) or absolutely deplorable in their Monday matinee game on Long Island, depending how you feel about off-the-opening-faceoff fights:
When B.J. Crombeen and Pierre-Cedric Labrie are lined up for the Lightning against Matt Martin and Joe Finley, one gets the sense the opening draw will be a sideshow. Which, in fact, it was.
Many have asked “what purpose does this serve?”, as they often do after any staged brawl?
Well, via Lightning Strikes, the Lightning and Islanders attempted to answer that:
"We knew we needed to win this one," Martin said, "and we wanted to do whatever we could to get the crowd going and get our teammates going."
"He looked at me during the national anthem and I was planning on looking at him, too," Crombeen said of Finley. "Both sides were ready and willing, and it was something that was going to happen. We're not going to let teams push us out of their building. If we have to do that, we'll happily do that."
Both sides believed the fracas did its job. Martin said the agitated Nassau Coliseum crowd was like "a sixth man for us," and Stamkos gave kudos to Crombeen and Labrie because they "answered the call."
Looking at the benches during the fight, you can see the energy infusion – sort of essential when you’re playing a 1 p.m. game on a Monday. (A game the Islanders won, 4-3.)
So while the validity of these stunt fights will be debated until the sun explodes (or fighting is banned, whichever happens first), the combatants at least claim some method to their madness. Even if it’s simply justifying some barbarous entertainment to kick off the game.