“When goalies square off, you never know if you’ll get a stirring heavyweight bout or a clumsy waltz between two sacks of equipment.” — SI.com
Today we pay tribute to the goalie fight, a phenomenon that occurs infrequently in nature but has reared its entertaining head twice in the NHL in the last week. First, Pittsburgh’s Brent Johnson gave the Islanders’ Rick DiPietro yet another reason to spend time on injured reserve, while last night’s tilt between Boston’s Tim Thomas and Montreal’s Carey Price was more for show than for dough.
The recent trend has yet to trickle down to the Griffins, who have been involved in only one goalie fight in at least the last 11 seasons. Jimmy Howard and Rochester’s Michael Leighton, who led the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, squared off at the Blue Cross Arena nearly five years ago, on April 9, 2006.
Without poring through our archives of hand-written game sheets — yes, kids, the Internet and real-time scoring didn’t always exist — it’s hard to state with certainty when the last goalie fight before Howard’s scrap was. But there are only two possible pugilists based on their penalty minute totals and other evidence: Jani Hurme in 1999-2000 and Pokey Reddick in 1996-97. Our memory suggests that both partook in the sweet science at least once.
Hurme, for his part, indeed threw down two seasons later as a member of the Ottawa Senators, although he needed glove removal assistance from his teammates on the bench in order to better abuse Felix Potvin. That bout and many other NHL goalie fights, including a couple involving Red Wings and a certain netminder from Colorado, are featured in an SI.com photo/video gallery.
Also worth checking out is a veritable love letter to the backstop brawl penned by SI’s Michael Farber earlier this week.
Today’s Griffins links:
- Wolves fall prey to Griffins, 7-5 (Griffins)
- Video: ‘Getting to know the Griffins,’ Episode 15: Forward Jordan Owens (MLive)
- Griffins coach Curt Fraser picks up 100th win as Grand Rapids holds off Chicago, 7-5 (MLive)
- Wolves lose to Grand Rapids 7-5 (Chicago Tribune)
- Midseason rankings (Red Wings Central)
Alumni news and notes:
- Red Wings’ Jimmy Howard pulled, offense sputters in 4-1 loss to Nashville (MLive)
- Mattias Ritola appears headed back to AHL after clearing waivers with Tampa Bay Lightning (MLive)
- Tampa Bay Lightning’s Mattias Ritola clears waivers, likely headed to Norfolk (TampaBay.com)
Video – NHL alumni goal: