The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Calgary Flames 8-2 Wednesday night, but the fireworks late in the third period were all anyone could talk about afterwards.
With the Red Wings leading 6-2 with 5:56 remaining, Luke Witkowski beat up the Flames’ Brett Kulak and then taunted Travis Hamonic, asking if he wanted a piece of him too. Officials would eject Witkowski from the game, but he was “speared” in the back of the legs by Matthew Tkachuk as he skated off the ice.
Witkowski didn’t like that much and set off a good ol’ fashioned bench brawl!
It’s hard to keep everything straight here, but I’ll do my best.
Here’s Tkachuk’s spear that set off the melee.
Witkowski returned to the ice to confront his attacker. And everything goes to hell.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard, who had skated back to the bench for the TV timeout, sees the carnage begin, and immediately puts on his goalie mask and searches for someone to punch.
Other players grab their favorite opposing player and start settling their differences with violent hugs and shoves.
The most vicious bout was between Anthony Mantha and Hamonic, which only ended after the pair fell through the gate to the Wings bench.
Four players were ejected in total (the Red Wings’ Mantha and Witkowski and the Flames’ Jon Gillies and Mikael Backlund) and 12 penalties were called following the fight.
“That’s what I like to call old-time hockey,” Witkowski said after the game to the Associated Press. “I think it’s good for the game. It brings fans into the sport.”
The Flames didn’t agree.
“Wisniewski, or whatever his name is, was just an absolute wrecking ball trying to start stuff, starting a complete circus with how many minutes left?” said Tkachuk. “It’s a joke that a guy like that would … just do something pretty stupid that kind of started everything. And then (he) turns back and chirps our whole bench, didn’t want to go anywhere, so I just went over there to give him a little poke and tell him just to get out of here. He was just looking for an excuse to come back. It’s just stupid.”
On the very next shift, former Capital Troy Brouwer was given a game misconduct after cross-checking a Red Wingers player after they scored their seventh goal of the night.
In total, the Flames and Red Wings combined for 121 penalty minutes. There were 19 penalties called just in the third period alone.
Here are a few more fun GIFs.
The Backlund slash that resulted in a game misconduct.
Sad Eddie Lack is sad.
Here’s Jonathan Ericsson stopping Sam Bennett’s stick swing.
And while this was all over the top and stupid, this is still a major improvement from how teams settled their differences decades ago.
While we prepare to debate Witkowski for the next few days, let's remember what 10 games for coming back onto the ice during an altercation looked like in the Norris Division days. pic.twitter.com/kwDJOGjn28
— Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) November 16, 2017
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