Can the Flyers build off their shutout win over the Devils?
Ray Emery was thrown out of Friday's game against Washington after he left his crease to fight Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. (AP)
NEWARK, N.J. -- More than being named the third star of a 7-0 humiliation at the hands of the Capitals, what Flyers goalie Ray Emery richly deserved was a suspension.
That wasn’t a fight with Braden Holtby, it was a flat-out assault.
There’s still supposed to be code of honor in this sport that if one player declines to fight, you back away.
General manager Paul Holmgren said nearly every player he fought on the ice never wanted to fight him. But they did, nonetheless.
“It was a response and I am not going to condone it,” Holmgren said. “But I have also been in that position where you get so upset and so embarrassed, you do dumb things.”
Craig Berube said he understood where Emery was coming from. He also said he doesn’t think “the code” really exists, anymore.
“I’ve been hit when I was down,” Berube said. “It happens. Frustrations set in. … He felt like he needed to do something, so he did.”
Emery told Holtby “protect yourself,” and then started wailing on the guy and didn’t let up.
“He didn’t want to fight and I basically said, ‘Protect yourself,’” Emery said. “He didn’t really have much of a choice.”
Holtby declined to comment after the game.
Friday’s brawl was an embarrassment to the Flyers, to club chairman Ed Snider and to the NHL.
Yet because fighting is still allowed, encouraged and deeply embedded into the fabric of the sport from generations back, Emery is able to walk away free and clear of a suspension.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Saturday that, “no rule was violated that warranted a suspension,” then added that the league would re-examine the scenario to see “if something needs done,” in the future.
Players in this league have received stiff fines and suspensions for far less a crime on the ice.
What Emery was trying to do was inspire his teammates and inject some life into the corpse that has become the Flyers these days.
That’s understandable. Yet when a player backs down, you’re supposed to walk away.
Instead, Emery shamed himself when he continued to pound on a player who didn’t want to fight.
“It happens,” Troy Brouwer told the Washington Post. “It’s Philly.”
If the Flyers players, coaches and organization don’t see it that way, then those fans who continue to argue that “the culture hasn’t changed” are proven right once more.
There was no honor to what happened here. None.