Ray Emery wasn’t suspended following his assault on Braden Holtby because there is apparently no rule in the books to prevent a player beating on an unwilling combatant. In response to Emery’s outbreak, the league will reportedly discuss 10-game suspensions for goalies that leave a particular area of the ice to participate in fights.
— gary lawless (@garylawless) November 4, 2013
So to recap…
- Philadelphia Flyers are getting blown out by the Washington Capitals
- Flyers instigate a line brawl
- Emery charges down the ice to take part in said brawl and grabs Holtby
- Holtby clearly wants no part in the fight, but Emery continues to hit him anyway
- The referees protect Emery as he continues to wail away on Holtby, who is trying to escape
- Emery gets kicked out of said blowout
- NHL can’t suspend Emery because there’s no rule against beating on an unwilling opponent
- NHL responds to Emery’s actions by banning goalie fights outright
Or, for the tl;dr among you: The league has once again totally missed the point.
The optics of what Emery did weren’t unpleasant because it was goalie-on-goalie violence. The optics are terrible because one player was allowed to repeatedly punch another in the skull while the refs held off any rescue attempts for the guy getting his face caved in unwillingly.
Let’s pose a hypothetical here: how would the NHL have reacted if Holtby had sustained an injury on the play? Tempers were flared and those punches were for real. With hate and intent, and Vincent Lecavalier and Steve Downie can attest to that. The former has missed at least one game with facial injuries, while Downie spent two nights in a hospital after his part in the brawl.
Would the league have found something wrong with Emery’s assault then?
That’s neither here nor there though. The point is that the league is totally misfiring in response to this issue. The issue is not goalie fights, and how the NHL arrived at the conclusion is beyond any sensible person’s ability to reason.
The problem with Emery’s actions is that he was allowed to punch another man in the head over and over again while a league employees stood by and watched. There’s no sugar coating that. That’s the problem, and the NHL is striking out once again on an issue that really seemed pretty simple at the outset.