Sucker Punch Or No Sucker Punch?
Amongst a certain portion of hockey fans, this will be an intriguing debate.
Not for me, sadly, because I've long taken the position that any bare-knuckle brawling in the NHL or hockey in general is, in the end, completely pointless. So it's hard for me to get too excited about debating the merits of Tim Gleason's nasty punch on Nikolai Kulemin Monday night in Raleigh. All I see is an incident that had almost nothing to do with the hockey game result in what may be a serious injury, an incident that would not be allowed on the street or in the other major sports.
But, as many have pointed out repeatedly, there's a big chunk of the hockey populace who not only likes this stuff, but thinks it's important, integral to the sport.
Even among them, however, there is going to be division on this incident.
Was Gleason, the Caroina defenceman, well within his rights to haul Kulemin out of a scrum and - we suspect - rearrange his facial features? It was a 10-man scrum that neither player started, but both men started exchanging gloved jabs to the face, and then Gleason separated the Russian from the pack and delivered his uppercut.
One school of thought says that once Kulemin starts throwing 'em, he deserves the outcome.
Then, however, there will be those who would argue that Gleason should have identified Kulemin as, essentially, a non-combatant who doesn't drop his gloves and scrap. In fact, in this case, it was only Gleason who dropped his gloves.
To those that espouse the always mysterious "code," Gleason had no business under any circumstance punching out the Leaf winger, who is likely to miss tonight's game against Tampa with a face and/or head injury.
So to you, fight fans, I look for guidance. Was Gleason right or wrong? Should Kulemin have known what was coming, or should he have as a player who never fights some sort of special protection under the code?
Ron Wilson said it wasn't a sucker punch. Some of his playes disagreed.
Now I await your verdict.