The NHL preseason is a time set aside for preparation and warm-ups for veterans while serving as an opportunity for young players and fringe options to impress coaching staffs.
On Wednesday night in Las Vegas, the two sides of that coin squarely butted heads.
While the Vegas Golden Knight hosted the Los Angeles Kings in what should have been an easygoing bout between the two Pacific Division teams with high aspirations, Kings roster hopeful Hayden Hodgson unleashed a heavy hit on Knights star Mark Stone midway through the second period.
While the hit may have been clean, Vegas took exception immediately, quickly prompting a significant brawl, especially by preseason standards.
— LA Royalty (@LARoyalty1967) September 28, 2023
Fists were flying and collars were tugged as Hodgson eventually found himself down on all fours on the ice. No Knights player really let up on their effort for revenge, as it took multiple skirmishes before the temperature finally cooled between the squads.
After the game, Stone decided to disparage Hodgson even further after his teammates jumped him for the booming hit.
“It’s probably the last time I’ll ever play against that guy,” the Knights captain said. “Not really much of a player, so I’ll leave it at that.”
"That's probably the last time I'll ever play against that guy. Not really much of a player, so I'll leave it at that." -- Mark Stone reacts to the 2nd period hit from Hayden Hodgson
Also went on to say he thinks he scared Brandt Clarke a little bit in the scrum #VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/SHt3Z3wc6Z
— Vince Sapienza (@VinceSapienza) September 28, 2023
Stone also went on to mention how he got in the face of Kings 20-year-old prospect Brandt Clarke.
“I think I scared him a little, didn’t I? Honestly, I was looking around for some of their talented players to run at them, and he was really the only one,” he said. “It’s unfortunate, you’re playing against a team like that; they’re trying to make a name for themselves.”
The 31-year-old winger certainly did enough to strike a little bit of fear into the young blueliner. During the ongoing scrum, Stone was seen holding Clarke by his collar and yelling as the defenseman appeared to cower.
Still trying to figure out why Stone was screaming at Clarke after the Hodgson hit. Lips don't read "Welcome to the NHL". pic.twitter.com/T7Ki62bGfP
Maybe it was fear, or maybe it was just shock from being up close and personal with a player he likely grew up watching in his hometown of Ottawa.
At least we do know that it will be incredibly awkward if Hayden Hodgson does make his way to the NHL this season and is in the lineup as they face Stone’s Golden Knights.