Tim Gleason didn’t read his copy of the NHL honour code. Distributed each fall, this year’s edition contained two chapters, with 513 pages dedicated to headshots, and two explaining the fighting code of honour. It seems in their haste to determine what exactly a head shot looks like, our NHL elders skimmed over the finer points of hockey’s sacred ethics.
But don’t worry, the book still clearly defines the proper rules for fight engagement. In typical league style, it’s written in language that won’t possibly confuse anyone. The fighting rules read as follows:
A player shall only enter into combat with a player who is within 10 pounds of his own weight. The player wishing to fight must also ensure that his opponent has been in a minimum of five career fights. Also, all fighting players must be of Canadian or American descent. Combatants are not permitted to fight any player of European descent, or any player who regularly wears a visor. A fighter who violates these rules will receive a game misconduct.
There, that settles it then. Now I understand why Tim Gleason received a misconduct for his knockout blow to Nikolai Kulemin last night.
It’s amusing that in a league where Italian soccer dives occur nightly, and each week there’s a new batch of questionable hits to throw under the microscope, there’s still a belief that an honour code is truly embedded into the minds of all players.
Kulemin and Gleason separated during a scrum. Seconds later the gloves were off, and Kulemin had a towel over his face. It’s never enjoyable to watch anyone get hurt under any circumstance, but this was a classic reflection of the clichéd hockey axiom of the sport being fast-paced, with emotions running high.
Just don’t tell that to Clarke MacArthur, who called Gleason’s swift uppercut a “disgusting” act despite the fact that Kulemin had engaged him during the scrum, and landed a few good whacks of his own before the gloves dropped.
From the Toronto Sun:
“There are certain matchups on the ice. I don’t care what (Gleason) says, you know when you’re in the right matchup. Kulemin’s never been a guy to fight and Gleason does it a lot. He knows better than that.”
Gleason seemed to genuinely regret coming to blows, and intends to get in touch with Kulemin. After the game his own father flashed his old boys club membership card, saying he would have suspended his son for 10 games.
Gleason told reporters that he was just reacting and protecting himself.
“I took one punch, then I took two and I thought, ‘Well, if you’re going to keep punching me in the face, I don’t know what else to do. I have to protect myself. It’s almost like a boxer getting hit in the face.”
Talk of respect and honour inevitably arises when a blatant mismatch takes place, but even the most disciplined fighters can only take getting pushed, punched, and facewashed for so long, regardless of who’s on the other end .
In just the past few seasons we’ve seen a handful bouts that were either sizable mismatches, or involved two highly unlikely combatants. Most began in a similar fashion to Gleason’s knockout of Kulemin, with the two fighters getting tangled in a scrum.
Daniel Carcillo vs. Marion Gaborik
Employing the textbook hold, duck, and hope strategy, Gaborik at least managed to stick around for a few good ones.
Pavel Datsyuk vs. Corey Perry
Now that’s not very Lady Byng like, Pavel. The Red Wings sniper has had only two career fights, with this one coming last October after he had been named the league’s most sportsmanlike player for the past three seasons.
Evgeni Malkin vs. Rick Nash
Nothing gets the blood of these non-fighters pumping quite like meaningless preseason hockey. Nash can certainly handle himself, but this was still only his sixth career fight, and just Malkin’s second. For his first trick, Sidney’s partner in All-Star Game watching picked a much less predictable opponent, at an even less predictable time…
Malkin vs. Henrik Zetterberg
Malkin’s maniacal pursuing of Zetterberg during Game 2 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final came complete with all the symptoms of a rookie fighter. His wide, erratic haymakers are a move mastered by children during their first tantrum, and his punching style was only a slight upgrade from Alex Semin’s embarrassment…
Alex Semin vs. Marc Staal
Kulemin rammed into the gate while trying to exit the rink, and left Carolina with a busted face after his run-in with Gleason. But he still looks better than Semin did after his impersonation of a deranged monkey.