A fight between two goalies in the NHL is not something we see very often. The media made a big deal of the fight between Rick Di Pietro, New York Islanders, and Brent (one punch) Johnson of the Pittsburgh Penguins, this week . Unfortunately, the glamour was tarnished when it was announced that Di Pietro would miss 4 to 6 weeks because of the punch he took to the jaw. There haven’t been many goalie fights in recent years but two of them stand out in my mind. Both of them involve Patrick Roy. He fought Mike Vernon in May of 97 in a playoff game.
(check this link) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeF5XF8jxkQ
The other was against Chris Osgood on April Fools Day, 1998.
Check this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl2xMXXOw4M
Both fights were at center ice with the combatants going “toe to toe”. Those two events played a major part in the great rivalry that developed between the two teams; the Detroit Redwings and the Colorado Avalanche.
I was involved in a few fights during my career. Before the “3rd man in” rule was instituted, the goalie was often the only player available to help a teammate when a third man jumped in. One such situation developed when I played for the Philadelphia Flyers in 1980 against the Vancouver Canucks:
We are killing a 5 vs 3 penalty when a fight breaks out in my crease. I have to get involved because we are short two men and one of our players gets attacked by a 3rd man. Another players jumps on the ice from our bench to make the playing field even but that caused both benches to empty and an all out brawl to erupt. The man I grab is Kevin McCarthy who is as strong as an ox. I wrestled with Kevin, who is now an assistant coach with the Flyers, for about 5 minutes, maybe more. We finally separate, my arms are sore from the tug of war we had. Now, I want to find a goalie to pair with. I find Glen Hanlon who is the backup goalie in this game for the Canucks, hopefully to rest and watch. But, suddenly, he throws a “left” which surprises me and starts throwing punches. At that point I’m am so tired, all I can do is hold on and duck my head. Luckily, none of the punches land. That brawl is listed as one of the longest bench emptying brawl in NHL history.
See this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-NXbpf0Er0
One other brawl I was involved in with an opposing goalie was against the Flyers when I played for the Atlanta Flames. That was one of many brawls those two teams had in the mid-70’s. This one has a little humor attached to it. I wasn’t playing this particular game when the fight broke out and both benches emptied:
I’m sitting on a chair behind the players, slightly raised over their heads. A fight breaks out. All of a sudden I see players jumping on the ice to get involved in the fight. “GOT TO GO” I said to myself. To step onto the ice, I put my hand on the board to swing my legs over. As I’m leaping, another player “nicked” my little finger with his skate as he was jumping on the ice. (I was really lucky that I didn’t get all my fingers sliced off.) The unwritten rule in a bench clearing brawl is that each player has to pair up with an opponent to avoid outnumbered situations. Goalies usually look for each other. Bleeding finger and all, I pair up with the late Wayne Stephenson, the Flyers goalie. We grab each other by the collar, we wrestle a while and watch on while other fights are going on. When it all ends, Wayne’s Jersey is full of blood from my bleeding finger.
In the dressing room after the fight, I bragged about how I beat him up so badly his jersey was full of blood…jokingly of course.
There were many bench clearing brawls in the 70’s and 80’s. The league has taken steps to prevent them from happening such as penalties for “third man in” and heavy fines to players and management.
The New NHL has fewer fights but goalie fights will always be a premium for blood thirsty fans to watch. . .
HAVE A GREAT HOCKEY DAY!
Phil Myre (www.philmyretalkshockey.com)