It’a always a bit of a rush these days when a hockey fight breaks out, what with the changing culture and rules in the NHL. The Red Wings have been unusually willing, so far this season, to drop the gloves and tell opponents that there are consequences to taking cheap shots and excessive harassment. The latest Red Wing to stand up and make this statement, last night against the Predators, was none other than baby-faced budding star Dylan Larkin.
D-Boss destroyed defender Yannick Weber in the third period of a 5-3 victory, at a point where the outcome of the game was by no means certain. Larkin had a few comments after the game about the fight itself and the Weber extra curricular activities that led up to it. Larkin’s comments can be found here, and footage of the fight can be found here for anyone who hasn't watched it a bajillion times already.
First a few notes on the fight itself. This was the first career fight for both Larkin and Weber, according to hockeyfights.com. Given that, let's not pretend that Larkin came out and demolished a modern equivalent of Bob Probert or Joey Kocur. Larkin still impressed though, landing anywhere between 4 and 6 direct hits on Weber’s face with one more that glances off the back of the helmet. Weber managed to do a pretty good Claude Lemieux impression, landing zero punches before falling to the ice in what appeared to be the fetal position. I believe the technical term is ‘damn, Webs, you got WRECKED son!’
Did anything good come of the fight? Well, in a microcosm, maybe. Although it's hard to pin the results of the game on any single event, especially a fight, it conceivably could have provided the emotional boost the Wings needed to finish the period strong and win the game. And, it provided an outlet for some of Larkin’s scoring frustrations - as he said in the post-game interview, he knows he isn't scoring. 5 games into the season, that's got to be a nagging voice in the back of the head of a guy who was 1 point off the team lead last season. If fighting Weber helped get some of the frustration out, maybe that's a good thing.
But what about bad consequences? It doesn't look like there were any negative immediate consequences, but there certainly could have been. As I just mentioned, Larkin is a points guy even if he's in a slump right now. Detroit fans would be universally condemning the fight if Larkin had injured his hand or if Weber had been the one delivering the punishing blows.
Or just as bad, what if Nashville had scored while one of our best players was in the box for 5 minutes? Larkin, even with the scoring slump, should still be considered one of our top forwards. Weber is a 3rd pairing defenseman. That exchange is a win all day long for Nashville. Will other enforcer types and league tough-guys take this as a sign that Larkin can be goaded into fights and removed from the ice for a 5 minute stretch? And why couldn't Larkin recognize that a Nashville penalty and him staying on the ice was a more responsible option than pounding Weber’s face? That maturity will come with time, but another player should have been there to help him realize that and take on Weber instead.
While this fight was certainly entertaining and exciting, I still can't get past all the negatives that could have cropped up as a result. We got lucky that things worked out they way they did. But what's your opinion on the fight? Should we commend Larkin on his Flawless Victory, or does he need to know better than to drop the gloves?