March 02, 2011
Here is why the rule that calls for an ejection for fighting off the opening faceoff of a period is kind of cosmetic. If the Ontario Hockey League had applied that rule to all centre-ice faceoffs, the Sudbury Wolves' Justin Sefton and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds' David Broll might not have fought on Tuesday. And there might not have been an ugly knockout, with a groggy Broll requiring assistance to get off the ice after Sefton hit him right on the chin.
The altercation came 3:07 into the opening period after the hometown Wolves had taken a quick two-goal lead on their way to a 6-2 win over an evidently flat Greyhounds team. It appeared Sefton stepped in since Broll was lined up across from Wolves captain Marcus Foligno, who was playing his first game since returning from injury.
A fight starting right after a team is in an early hole is a hockey scenario as old as the hills. However, this points out it's kind of needless. One can tolerate a tilt that grows out of raw emotion (like Montreal Canadiens first-rounder Jarred Tinordi's scrap in the London-Kitchener game), but a staged fight is kind of trite. It is also harder to abide with our growing knowledge of traumatic brain injuries; concussions don't just come from hits. As Eastlink TV commentator Stew Kernan noted afterwards, "You certainly hope that nothing came from the bench as far as dropping the gloves and trying to stir up your team."
It clearly had some tough consequences for Broll, a right wing who has had a trying sophomore season. He was benched last weekend for disciplinary reasons. Getting knocked out barely three minutes into his first game back was hardly the return he envisioned. Meantime, the 6-foot-3, 199-pound Sefton probably can expect a little more room on the ice.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.