Tuesday night’s game was yet another in which the referees were questioned. The biggest story, outside of the score itself, may be the so-called fight between Radko Gudas and Florida Panthers’ RW George Parros. I am not really sure why Gudas was given a fighting major when he was attacked from behind by Parros and then wrapped up by the refs and was still being punched by Parros. Gudas had no way of fighting back, no intention of fighting back, and was given five for fighting. That is ridiculous. Gudas did not even drop his gloves. That is arguable the most obvious evidence he did not want to fight and was just trying to avoid being injured by a larger Parros. NHL rule 46.1 explains fighting majors:
46.1 Fighting – A fight shall be deemed to have occurred when at least one player (or goalkeeper) punches or attempts to punch an opponent repeatedly or when two players wrestle in such a manner as to make it difficult for the Linesmen to intervene and separate the combatants.
So, I definitely did not see a punch attempt by Gudas against Parros. If you can find me a punch attempt in the video of the fight, I will be amazed. Gudas never dropped his gloves, and was still being hit by Parros after both were restrained by the refs. There is a reason why the referees made their quickest attempt to break up the scrum, because Gudas was in an obvious defenseless position. So the referees certainly had an idea that Gudas was being unfairly attacked, so why was no additional penalty assessed to Parros? In terms of the NHL rule book, Parros was the obvious aggressor. Rule 46.2 explains why Parros should have been ejected:
46.2 Aggressor – The aggressor in an altercation shall be the player who continues to throw punches in an attempt to inflict punishment on his opponent who is in a defenseless position or who is an unwilling combatant.
A player must be deemed the aggressor when he has clearly won the fight but he continues throwing and landing punches in a further attempt to inflict punishment and/or injury on his opponent who is no longer in a position to defend himself.
A player who is deemed to be the aggressor of an altercation shall be assessed a major penalty for fighting and a game misconduct.
According to this, Parros should have been ejected from the game. It was not an actual fight, which in actuality makes the entire situation worse. If punching a player that is defenseless is illegal in what was a fair fight, how can it not go penalized when the opposing player was not fighting to begin with? So, Gudas was defenseless not only because he was basically tackled from behind, but also, eventually, because a referee had restrained him. No fault to the referees for stepping in, but it is all up to Parros to completely back down as soon as the referees are involved. Why was Parros not punished for attempting to continue the fight even after the referees were in the way? Once again, I bring up the rule book:
46.5 Continuing or Attempting to Continue a Fight – Any player who persists in continuing or attempting to continue a fight or altercation after he has been ordered by the Referee to stop, or who resists a Linesman in the discharge of his duties shall, at the discretion of the Referee, incur a misconduct or game misconduct penalty in addition to any penalties imposed.
Granted, the rule does state that it is at the discretion of the ref to assess a misconduct penalty, but at what point does discretion become skewed? Why should the referee not make an extra call if the extra infraction is obvious? Hockey is a fast game, and the majority of infractions can be judged differently by multiple people. Most penalties are border line, but the obvious ones are expected to be noticed. Parros has no right to continue his aggressiveness towards Gudas in any way shape or fashion, but yet he continued. To begin with, Parros unfairly attacked Gudas from an angle at which he had all of the advantage, putting Gudas in a defenseless position. Afterwards, Parros “fought” Gudas with Gudas not attempting to fight back. After the referees were able to restrain both, Parros continued to attempt to strike Gudas. Parros should have received a multitude of penalties, one of the more obvious ones being roughing:
51.1 Roughing – Roughing is a punching motion with the hand or fist, with or without the glove on the hand, normally directed at the head or face of an opponent.
Another penalty which I think Parros should have received, is much less concrete:
75.1 Unsportsmanlike Conduct – Players, goalkeepers and non-playing Club personnel are responsible for their conduct at all times and must endeavor to prevent disorderly conduct before, during or after the game, on or off the ice and any place in the rink. The Referees may assess penalties to any of the above team personnel for failure to do so.
There are a number of things wrong with the Gudas vs. Parros “fight,” and any sane fan of any team that happened to see the fight knows it was not officiated correctly. Fans may argue that there lies an infamous bias within the league against the Lightning, while others will defend the referees using the “speed of the game” excuse. There are even fans out there that may argue that Gudas was in the wrong with his second check, which I personally will say is completely absurd. However, I think the referees completely messed this situation up. Gudas should have gotten off with zero… yes, zero penalty minutes, while Parros should have received at least 2 minutes for roughing, 2 minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10 minute misconduct. The result of this would have been a 4 minute power play for the Lightning, which would have been an enormous factor in deciding what was then a 1-0 game early in the second period. However, both Gudas and Parros received matching 5 minute majors for fighting. I am in no way saying this fight would have changed the result of the game had it been called correctly, as it was still rather early in the game and the Lightning were only down a goal. However, the Lightning would have had a lengthy power play chance, which could have also resulted in a major momentum shift. In a game that hinges on momentum, that would have been a major factor in deciding the outcome of the game.
You can see the fight for yourself on hockeyfights.com here. What are your thoughts? Tweet Bolts by the Bay or me personally @Gabriel0430. You may also leave a comment down below. Your thoughts are always welcome.
Notes: Parros only received 6:46 TOI. That is likely a combination of both his 7 PIMs keeping him off the ice while Panthers’ Head Coach Kevin Dineen also kept him off the ice. Whether or not that was Dineen disciplining Parros or not remains in question… C Adam Hall was claimed by the Flyers today. More info here.