This Kid Who is Becoming A Man Has Your Back. Who Has His?

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t toss in my 0.02 on this and if you feel as though you read enough about it, well then read some more.  In Monday night’s preseason game between the Florida Panthers and the Montreal Canadiens in which Florida was thoroughly demolished,a fight took place which has caused a ton of controversy.

Midway into the third period with the Habs leading 5-1, Montreal grinder Travis Moen hit Panther forward Evgeny Dadonov from behind sending him directly into the boards.  Coming to his rescue?  18 year old rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who as you can see from the image above payed quite the price for his loyalty.  Gudbranson and the Panthers were furious with the ultimate outcome of the scrum which resulted in a nice gash below Erik’s left eye from Moen, after Moen continued to pummel Gudbranson while the officials attempted to break things up.  Or hold Erik’s arms from fighting.  Whichever way you want to look at it.

First of all, I am impressed with Big G’s willingness to stand up for his teammates.  Something that has been missing from this team since my daughter was about 8.  She’s a high school junior now, so do the math yourself.  Gudbranson an 18 year old rookie defenceman trying to make the team coming to the rescue of fellow players, is something unheard of here in Florida.  It’s actually refreshing as well as exciting. Here’s what Erik had to say about why he did what he did:

I wanted to fight him. I instigated it,” said Gudbranson, who jumped Moen only after Moen drilled Evgeny Dadonov in the back into the boards. “It’s a hockey fight. The fact that I was tied up didn’t help. He saw it and he threw the punch which wasn’t really good. I could’ve done it to him at the end when the refs were in I could’ve broken his nose but I didn’t do it.

These guys are my brothers while I’m here. These guys are my teammates, the guys I trust the most and when you take a cheap shot like that you better expect something coming. It was a little gutless of him throwing that punch. It was a hockey fight. I probably deserved it. He saw it, he took it.

Panthers head coach Peter DeBoer was bent out of shape about with the incident as well.  Here’s what he had to say:

I don’t know when it became all right in this league for a veteran guy to get a young kid hurt in a vulnerable position and keep throwing punches,’’ said an emotional DeBoer. “It was a play I don’t see how they could proud of.’’

The Panthers lack of toughness has been missing for years as I had mentioned earlier in this post, and it must change.  However as refreshing as it is to see Gudbranson coming to the rescue, it’s also a bit embarrassing that the “kid” is the one providing the muscle.  Regardless of the fact that it’s preseason and that it was a 5-1 trouncing at that point, there has to be a veteran that steps up instead.  If this kid had suffered a significant injury that would have kept him out for any length of time, the Panthers would never forgive themselves, and would be hard pressed to shake this sissy like behavior.

I firmly place the blame on coach DeBoer who for some reason has an aversion to enforcers.  So now the Panthers are looking forward to October 30th when they take on Montreal again.  So what! If he’s in Rochester, enforcer Andrew Peters will most likely be on a flight in time for the game.  Big deal!  He’s going to play what, three shifts? Put a guy on the roster that’s talented enough to play without worrying about his lack of skill, and that can also fight when needed.  Note to Pete:  This is an aggressive game, we need aggressive players.

New General Manager Dale Tallon expects more toughness out of this team and you can bet your arse that he’s gonna get it.  Bad enough teams are going to run all over us with their speed and skill.  Do they actually have to add insult to injury by beating the crap out of us physically too?  If players know that they can push us around with little or no retaliation it’s going to happen every game.

I’m not advocating playing like the Broad Street Bullies, but I expect my team to have some fight.  But not from an 18 year old!  I love the physical aspect of this kid and the game he plays, but damn it, it has to come from someone else.

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Tags: Erik Gudbranson Montreal Canadiens Peter Deboer Travis Moen

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