By Mike Harrington
A couple rulings have come down from the NHL late Tuesday afternoon in the wake of Sunday's brawl in Toronto: Sabres coach Ron Rolston has been fined an undisclosed amount for "player selection and team conduct" and Leafs winger Phil Kessel has been fined for the remaining three games of the preseason for his slashes at Sabres enforcer John Scott (see Brendan Shanahan's video explanation above)
Clearly, the league is slapping a rookie head coach on the wrist for putting Scott on the ice to initiate the melee that featured goaltenders Ryan Miller and Jonathan Bernier. Fair enough on first glance.
But oops, it wasn't in the final five minutes of a game, Scott was already on the ice and had played 8 1/2 minutes to that point with the Sabres down forwards due to injury. And Leafs coach Randy Carlyle had the last change anyway. This wasn't like Lindy Ruff throwing Adam Mair, Patrick Kaleta and Andrew Peters on the ice against Ottawa's skill line in 2007 in response to Chris Drury's injury.
Sets an awfully dangerous precedent for teams. What constitutes a fine for "player selection" now?
And as for team conduct, which team had a player suspended 10 games for leaving the bench?
The Kessel suspension seems about right given Scott's initiation. It's a little surprising Kessel won't miss any regular season games but the Leafs were hit hard by David Clarkson's braincramp. Still, if you're only going to get suspended for the preseason, it's not much of a deterrent.