Penguins players are not out looking for fights
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik doesn't care about “the code.”
Orpik, through no fault of his own, found himself in a Boston hospital on Saturday because of his beliefs.
The Boston Bruins targeted Orpik early and often following a hit to forward Loui Eriksson in the opening minute, clearly believing that Orpik owed them a fight because of his hit.
Orpik's hit, which saw his right shoulder plant Eriksson in the chest, was deemed legal. Still, the Bruins — notably enforcer Shawn Thornton — challenged Orpik to fisticuffs on numerous occasions, apparently because Orpik chose to aggressively hit one of the Bruins marquee players.
Boston coach Claude Julien said on Sunday night that he “disagrees” with Penguins coach Dan Bylsma's assessment that the hit was legal. No penalty was called on the play.
The Penguins don't believe fighting is always a sign of toughness, nor do they think Orpik should have felt obligated to fight.
“I'm not going to back down to anyone,” said defenseman Deryk Engelland earlier this week. “None of us are.”
His fight against Boston's Milan Lucic on Saturday marked the first time one of the Penguins has dropped his gloves since Nov. 15.
“No one on this team is afraid to fight,” Engelland said. “But we aren't a team that goes around looking for fights.”
Few disdain fighting more than Orpik. He has received only a handful of fighting majors in his career and none in the past five years.
After refusing to fight Thornton earlier in the game, the Boston forward later pulled Orpik down from behind before pummeling him with a series of punches while Orpik was helpless on his back.
Some around hockey, specifically members of the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, believe the situation would have been defused had Orpik simply dropped the gloves.
Rick Tocchet, who played for both the Penguins and Bruins, said he doesn't believe Orpik deserved what happened. However, he does believe Orpik should fight with more regularity.
“I love Brooks and the way he plays,” Tocchet said. “But, when you play on the edge the way he does, I personally think that you should fight, at least occasionally. I don't think Brooks is a dirty player at all, but when you play that style, you're going to have some borderline hits on occasion. They're impossible to ignore. So I think it would serve him well to fight some of the time.”
Tocchet, who calls himself “new school and old school,” believes fighting defuses dirty hits.
“I truly do,” he said. “Look at what happened last night. You know coming into the game that Boston is sensitive because (defenseman Johnny) Boychuk just got hurt (against Montreal). And you know the Penguins and Bruins don't like each other. So when you hit one of their best players on the first shift, even though the hit was totally clean, you know things could get nasty.”
Things, of course, did get nasty.
Thornton and right wing James Neal could receive heavy suspensions for their respective roles in Saturday's game. Neal kneed Boston's Brad Marchand in the head moments before Thornton attacked Orpik.
“We don't fight much but it's not like we aren't willing,” center Joe Vitale said last week. “You do it when the time is right.”
When is the time right?
It's a question that will rage on in hockey circles.
“When used properly,” Tocchet said, “fighting can be a good thing.”
“But in this case, I don't know. You can't justify what Thornton did. You just can't. It's tough.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Penguins’ best bet is on Martin
- Young defensemen make case for future with Penguins
- From injuries to front office, Penguins’ season didn’t lack drama
- Penguins president: General manager, coach won’t be fired
- Penguins’ Malkin: ‘We’re not a championship team’
- Fleury valiant in defeat
- Penguins eliminated with Game 5 overtime loss to Rangers
- Penguins notebook: Lovejoy says individual play is problematic
- Rangers’ defensive plan against Penguins was unwavering
- Rossi: Rutherford falling apart, too
- Starkey: Tracing the Penguins’ demise