Glass, Asham keep fighting
NEW YORK — Former Penguins right wing Arron Asham needed two seconds to endear himself to the Madison Square Garden crowd on Sunday.
Penguins left wing Tanner Glass already had endeared himself to his teammates, but only augmented his blossoming reputation as a team-first player when he went head-to-head with Asham for 52 brutal seconds during the Penguins' 6-3 win over the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Glass and Asham found themselves in the opening faceoff circle — the first sign that fisticuffs were coming — and quickly decided to fight.
“I asked if he wanted to go,” Asham said. “He said yes.”
The two unleashed a barrage of punches for nearly a minute, the fight taking place in front of the Rangers' bench. Asham is known for having one of the league's best right hands, as evidenced by his knockout of Washington's Jay Beagle last season.
Glass took about a dozen rights from Asham and kept coming back for more.
His teammates noticed.
“A great fight from both guys,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “Really big for us.”
The Penguins have lost a host of terrific locker room figures over the years, with well-liked players such as Asham, Rangers forward Mike Rupp, Flyers forward Max Talbot and retired forward Bill Guerin moving on.
In Glass, the Penguins believe they have located a leader.
“He's one of those rugged, gritty players,” right wing Pascal Dupuis said. “Obviously, (the fight) gave us life. We all know Ash is a tough customer. It means a lot to our team.”
Glass was perfectly receptive to Asham's invitation and also receptive to the idea of spending five minutes in the penalty box.
“I needed all five minutes to recover,” Glass said.
Asham and Glass have a history. The two fought a spirited bout last season when Asham was with the Penguins and Glass played with the Winnipeg Jets. Then, on July 1, the Penguins signed Glass to a two-year, $1.1 million contract. He was signed specifically to replace Asham, a free agent who wanted badly to return to the Penguins.
Asham told the Tribune-Review on July 1 that he wanted to play a third season in Pittsburgh. General manager Ray Shero never offered him a contract, allowing Asham to sign a two-year, $2 million deal with the Rangers.
Still, Asham insists there is no animosity between he and Glass.
“Just two guys doing their job,” Asham said. “I've got nothing against him. Just playing my role, and he's playing his role.”
Glass had the better of the fight in the early stages, landing a number of right hands to Asham's face. However, as the fight continued, Asham landed a barrage of power punches.
Neither player went down, and Asham laughed off the fight's length.
“Got to get my lungs ready,” he said with a smile.
Glass appears to have his lungs ready, also. His entire game has been strong, a defensive stalwart through two games for the Penguins.
“He's a big plus,” Dupuis said.