Sunday’s preseason riot between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres seems to have a million different angles to it. The Ryan Miller and Jonathan Bernier goalie fight, Phil Kessel‘s stick swipe at John Scott and David Clarkson‘s heavy suspension for leaving the bench during a fight are all major stories to come from the game. However, one other aspect was a separate fine given to the Sabres’ new head coach Ron Rolston.
Rolston was seen by the NHL as fueling the all-out brawl between the two teams when he countered Toronto’s skill line by sending out Scott, who immediately went after Kessel. Leafs’ coach Randy Carlyle attempted to try and calm the tense situation down by putting his skill players out on the ice. However, Scott was dispatched, then all hell broke loose.
As part of the backlash, Rolston was given a $10,000 fine by the league for “player selection.” It would seem the NHL wasn’t psyched that Scott was sent out, seen as a move meant to continue the violence.
It does come off a bit petty, and now a few coaches are voicing a similar opinion. Several coaches spoke anonymously to QMI Agency claiming they were furious about Rolston’s punishment.
“So what am I supposed to do now?” one coach asked. “Do I call the ref over and call timeout so I can call (league vice-president of hockey operations) Colin Campbell and ask him who I can put on the ice?”
“What Rolston did was pretty much what a lot of us would have done in those circumstances,” said another coach. “Now the league is going to tell who we can and who can’t put on the ice? I have no problem with discipline for our actions, but dictating ‘player selection’ crosses a line in my mind.”
Another coach stated that life as a coach was tough enough having to focus on winning, and being forced to place additional focus on sending the right players out in specific situations is too much to worry about.
Apparently, several coaches are thinking of taking a united front towards the league in attempts to call out their actions on Rolston.
The Leafs Sabres game has essentially become the story that keeps giving. One has to wonder how much more drama can come of it, and if things will finally simmer down once the regular season starts next week.