[LL] Ray Emery Disgraces NHL By Punching Unwilling Braden Holtby

In the NHL, this constitutes a fight. - Bruce Bennett

After the embarrassment that was Ray Emery's "fight" against Braden Holtby, the NHL may be able to deliver whatever supplemental discipline they like, based on Emery's "Leaving the Crease" penalty.

If you haven't seen it yet, watch it. It is "hockey," after all. The relevant portion starts at the 37 second mark.

Here's Emery's quote from after the game:

He didn't want to fight but I said basically protect yourself. He didn't really have much of a choice. (Source)

If one more person talks to me about "the Code," I will laugh directly in their face. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm finding it very hard to draw a distinction between Emery punches - against a person he knew was unwilling to fight - and assault. I'm a fan of goalie fights, but this made me sick to my stomach - it simply wasn't a fight; it was one man beating up another, for no defensible reason.

There are oh-so-many people at fault here. First and foremost is Emery, followed by Berube, Holmgren, and Snider, who continue to weave dirty fights into the history of the Flyers organization under the guise of "that's hockey!". Then there's the officials - Dennis LaRue, David Brisebois, Matt MacPherson, and especially Francois St. Laurent (number 38 in the video) - the NHL's representatives on ice were more concerned with giving Emery space to beat the living hell out of Holtby than actual player safety. It's a minor, but still revolting note that the NHL won't hold these referees publicly accountable for what should universally be agreed upon as a failure in their responsibility to break that up (and you know they failed, because otherwise Emery would've been charged with rule 46.5, "continuing or attempting to continue a fight").

So what's the NHL going to do about it?

Probably far too little; we should be accustomed to seeing the NHL put only the most laughable restrictions on fighting, even though it demands far more regulatory nuance if it is going to continue having a place in this game. But the NHL has some unscratched ice in rule 27.6 - Leaving the Goal Crease (NHL rules, PDF):

In addition, he shall be subject to a fine of two hundred dollars ($200) and this incident shall be reported to the Commissioner for such further disciplinary action as may be required.

Forget about looking for a suspension from the fighting penalty - the NHL has made it clear they won't touch it - but "further disciplinary action" could constitute anything from a $1 fine to a lifetime ban. You see, Bettman has made it clear that these issues aren't necessarily considered precedent. From the ruling against Kaleta (PDF warning):

As I noted in my most recent disciplinary opinion [...] the CBA does not prescribe a formulaic basis for the determination of Supplementary Discipline. To the contrary, Article 18 [...] embodies a recognition that each case must be decided on the basis of its own particular facts and circumstances.

I'm not sure if there's any document limiting the "further disciplinary action as may be required," but it seems to me like the league has ample room to suspend Emery for as long as they like on the basis of an exceptional case: Ray Emery left the crease to fight one and only one person, and even though Holtby declined the fight, Emery knowingly engaged with him anyways. These are the case's "own particular facts and circumstances," and personally, I think they should easily be grounds for the remainder of the season, if not more.

Update: NHL.com published this report:

But Emery did not face even a disciplinary hearing with NHL senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan because rules 46.2 and 46.17 limit punishments for instigators. Rule 46.2 covers the punishment he received during the game and 46.17 states that a player "deemed to be the aggressor" for the third time in a season gets a two-game suspension.

Apart from that, there is nothing that can be pointed to for supplemental discipline.

Which we obviously know to be pure and utter bullshit. Sweep, sweep, sweep under the rug.

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