I know the default response to Gaustad fighting Lucic was “shoulda done it 10 days ago,” and that’s true. But Gaustad messed up at the time. He didn’t stand up for his teammate.

How many of us have moments in our life where we wish we had acted differently in a certain circumstance? All of us? Of course.

In the end, it’s better late than never. His punishment for not doing it immediately was spending all those nights sitting on the fact that he was going to have to fight Lucic. And that’s no small punishment.

It still took stones to answer that bell (no matter how long it took to do it), and he did.

And yes, he lost the fight. But the point isn’t about hurting Lucic. It’s not about him, and it’s not about Boston. It’s about demonstrating to your teammates in the dressing room that, no matter how badly this is going to hurt, I have your back when someone takes a shot at you. Your teammates are your brothers.

Maybe it’s not a good sign that it didn’t happen immediately, but whatever – what would it have said if it didn’t happen at all? If that game had passed without any push back from the Sabres, with no hint that they remember the previous game? That’s a whole other level of not giving a damn about each other.

I’m sure the anti-fighting crowd saw it as meaningless, as something that didn’t affect the game, and they may be right. But it’s November, and it’s a long season. Hockey is a tough sport, and it’s a hell of a lot easier when you battle through the schedule as a team. You need each other.

So see the Gaustad/Lucic fight as you want, but understand: he had to do that. And he did.

Going forward, that was good for him, and good for the Sabres.