Goalie fights—the sweet ambrosia of hockey that only occurs in the rarest of occasions.
Fisticuffs between goalkeepers are few and far between, but when they occur—Lord, the excitement!
Unfortunately for NHL fans, the tradition of the goalie fight appears to be in danger of extinction, as was evident during Wednesday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens.
Fans hoping for a good, old-fashioned keeper dust-up were left hanging when referees saw fit to end what promised to be a most enjoyable throwdown between opposing goaltenders.
Video of the near-fight was spotted by Brian Stubits of CBS Sports, and it started when players began mixing it up in front of the Penguins goal.
Penguins goalkeeper Marc-Andre Fleury backed away as his teammates began grappling with the Habs. Several moments passed before Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj beckoned to Fleury and offered an invitation to do battle.
Fleury accepted, and the two men began to shed their gear and skate to center ice. The referees had different plans, however, and they intervened before the fight could begin. Fleury and Budaj ended up being restrained by officials, effectively killing any and all buzz building in the stands.
Suffice to say, fans were not happy with the intervening referees.
Max fine to the ref who broke up that goalie fight #letemgo— Eric Oulds (@ouldsy20) January 23, 2014
Can't believe the refs wouldn't let Fleury and Budaj go last night!!— Carter Gathercole (@GathercoleC) January 23, 2014
Anyone else disappointed the refs didn't let Fleury & Budaj throwdown last night!!! :)— jace martin (@jacemartinmusic) January 23, 2014
The Penguins went on to destroy the Canadiens, winning 5-1. Budaj later told the media that the fight invitation was born out of frustration, according to CBSSports.com. He was just glad Fleury was willing to indulge him.
“I think there was just a scrum on the ice, and there was built-up tension,” Budaj said after the game. “You know, we were losing 5-1...it was a disappointing night for us. So props to him that he wanted to do it.”
Is this it? The end of goalie fights in the NHL?
While the league hasn’t specifically banned the practice, it has appeared to tighten down goalie combat after Ray Emery’s brutalization of Braden Holtby earlier in the season.
Unfortunately, I forecast the (usually) beautiful practice of goalie fighting will fall off over the course of the next several years. It’s just the way things seem to be headed for the sport. Sigh.
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