Randy Carlyle not without fault in Leafs-Sabres brawl | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaRandy Carlyle not without fault in Leafs-Sabres brawl

Posted: Monday, September 23, 2013 | 09:30 PM

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The Maple Leafs' Phil Kessel, left, seen here tangling with Buffalo's John Scott in a March 21, 2013 game, looked as though he might take a beating from the Sabres' tough guy on Sunday night before teammate David Clarkson hopped the Toronto bench and intervened. (Gary Wiepert/Associated Press) The Maple Leafs' Phil Kessel, left, seen here tangling with Buffalo's John Scott in a March 21, 2013 game, looked as though he might take a beating from the Sabres' tough guy on Sunday night before teammate David Clarkson hopped the Toronto bench and intervened. (Gary Wiepert/Associated Press)

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Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle says he put Phil Kessel on the ice Sunday night after Toronto's Jamie Devane beat up Buffalo's Corey Tropp in an effort to "defuse the situation." It led to Kessel being matched up against the Sabres' six-foot-eight, 270-pound tough guy John Scott. Bad call, reports CBCSports.ca hockey writer Mike Brophy.
Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle was well within his rights to express disappointment at newcomer David Clarkson leaving the bench to engage in a fight, a move that cost the right-winger the first 10 games of the season.

Clarkson left the bench to attempt to come between Buffalo's six-foot-eight, 270-pound enforcer John Scott who was trying to goad the Leafs best scorer, Phil Kessel, into a fight. The move, leaving the bench, carries an automatic 10-game suspension.

That said, Carlyle isn't without fault. He said he put Kessel and Tyler Bozak on the ice following a fight in which Toronto's Jamie Devane had beat up Buffalo's Corey Tropp in an effort to, "defuse the situation."

Bad call.

"Obviously I made a mistake," Carlyle said. "I never believed in my wildest dreams the attack would come directed at that type of player from the opposition, but I was wrong."

A better choice might have been six-foot-four, 220-pound Troy Bodie, but that may have had political implications. Bodie is the son-in-law of Maple Leafs president and CEO Tim Leiweke.

How would it look if the coach sends out the son-in-law to get his butt kicked by a thug?


In terms of what he brings to the table as a hockey player, Scott is little more than a thug whose only purpose as an NHL player is to intimidate and hurt the opposition.

In 34 games last season, he had no goals and no points and a mere 15 shots in goal. In 180 career NHL games he has a goal and five points with a whopping 67 shots on goal. In 126 games over four years at Michigan Tech Scott had seven goals and 18 points with 352 penalty minutes while in 173 American Hockey League games over three years he had six goals, 13 points and 402 PIMs. You get the picture.

Carlyle intimated sending Scott after a star player like Kessel does not fall under the 'code of hockey.'  Kessel, by the way, may also face supplemental discipline for slashing Scott twice
"Things have changed dramatically over the years with the addition of visors and helmets," Carlyle said. "The game at times can be a violent game and it's a game that is supposed to be physical. If you are physical usually you have to respond in your honour at some point. That's part of the code, but the things that happened last night are not a part of that."

The six-foot-one, 200-pound Clarkson gave away seven inches and 70 pounds to Scott, but obviously did what he felt was the right thing to do when a teammate, a star player, was in danger. Clarkson will lose his salary while sitting out the suspension.

"I think he felt there was an advantage being taken by their player and it was a poor judgment," Carlyle said. "He did what he did and there's no way to defend it. You just accept what happened and you move forward."

While the coach was clearly upset at the situation and the prospect of losing a star player for the first 10 games of the season, Clarkson's teammates defended his actions.

'Great team guy'

"I think Clarkie is a great team guy that takes pride in sticking up for his teammates," said captain Dion Phaneuf. "Obviously it's a tough situation if what everyone was talking about becomes official [the suspension], but if we lose him for an extended period it is a big loss.

"He's a big part of our team and of our locker room. His intentions were to stick up for his teammates and that is what he is all about."

Nazem Kadri also had a leg over the boards and seemed primed to leave the bench, but he was pulled back by teammate Joffrey Lupul.

"I tried to get a hold of Clarkie, but he was up and at 'em," Kadri said. "We all understand it happens sometimes. We had a funny feeling something was going to happen, but not nearly that."

The Maple Leafs have three pre-season games remaining, one on Tuesday at home against Ottawa and then a home-and-home series against the Red Wings starting in Detroit Friday and continuing Saturday in Toronto.

Looking ahead to the start of the regular season, Oct. 1 in Montreal, Carlyle is not looking forward to having one of his leaders in the press box.

"The issue is we're going to more than likely lose a player for an extended period of time," Carlyle said. "That's the most disappointing part. Again, we have to accept responsibility for it and move forward."


Centre David Bolland was pulled from the lineup Saturday in Buffalo and scratched again Sunday night in the return match against the Sabres because of a groin injury. He remains day to day.


Jonathan Bernier is supposed to be in a war with James Reimer to see who will be the team's starting goalie. Sunday night, he showed a fighting spirit when he ventured out of his crease and down the ice to fight Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. Bernier handled himself rather well, winning the bout.

Asked how he felt the next day, he smiled and said, "We won the game. That's part of hockey and everyone stuck up for each other."

Asked why he would engage in something that he really wasn't a part of to begin with, Bernier said, "To defend my teammates. When a player like that happens at the faceoff - a tough guy against our skilled player - I don't think it is acceptable. I just thought it was the right play for me to do."

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