Somewhere, in a dark cave north of the border in Toronto, a red phone rang on Saturday night at the NHL’s War Room when stars rang through Matt Bradley’s head at the Wachovia Center.
After a heated exchange of cross-checks on the boards with Dan Carcillo, Bradley and Carcillo squared off – or were about to tangle – when Carcillo caught him with a swift right that nearly knocked him out cold.
Bradley went down hard.
He could not skate off the ice under his own power – and clearly did not know where he was.
The controversial video is below for your perusal, in case you missed it. You be the judge.
Carcillo threw his gloves off quick. From my vantage point high atop the Wachovia Center, and the slow motion replays that I have seen, Bradley didn’t get both of his gloves off fast enough.
If you freeze the frame when the Carcillo’s one punch is landed, it looks like Bradley has one glove off and the other one is in mid-air on the ice on the way down.
Did Carcillo “sneak him” and hit Bradley before he had a chance to defend himself? It’s a tough call.
“It happened pretty quick,” Carcillo explained. “I don’t know why he waited so long to drop his gloves. Once you see the gloves off as a fighter, you don’t wait to get punched. You punch.”
Bradley said after the game that it "may have been" his own fault.
“I hadn’t dropped my gloves yet,” Bradley said. “Maybe it’s my fault for not expecting that but I was willing to fight him but obviously I didn’t get started.”
The bottom line is that Carcillo’s penalties decided Saturday’s game. He received: two minutes for cross-checking, two minutes for instigation, five minutes for fighting, 10 minute misconduct and a game misconduct.
A nine minute power play for the Capitals, which spanned the last 5:27 of the first period and the first 36 seconds of the second period. Washington scored three goals with the extended advantage and turned a game that was knotted at one into a 4-1 blowout in a matter of 3:56.
“I kind of felt like I left those guys out to dry, killing off nine minutes,” Carcillo said. “I don’t feel very good about it.”
The Capitals went on to hand the Flyers an embarrassing 8-2 defeat, giving Peter Laviolette the worst head coaching debut in Flyers history. It was the Flyers' seventh loss in eight games, as they dropped to 12th in the Eastern Conference.
Only Edmonton’s Ted Green had a worse NHL debut with a new club, a 9-2 defeat on Oct. 4, 1991.
“The whole thing never should have happened,” Laviolette said. “We got hit; we should have skated away and kept playing the game. They scored three goals on the nine minute power play, but there’s no question that there’s a long way to go in all three zones.”
Laviolette agreed that the Flyers looked “drained” after Washington’s three goals.
Chris Pronger wouldn't use the call as a crutch. He said that the extended penalty kill shouldn’t have cost the Flyers the game.
“We have to kill it,” Pronger said. “At the end of the day you have to kill those penalties, it’s part of the game that for a while was pretty good. Our special teams were doing very well for us, and lately they’re killing us and tonight wasn’t any different."
It would have been interesting to see how Laviolette’s first game would have played out without this power play. In the first period, it seemed like the Flyers were getting to the net like they were on their hot streaks this season.
Instead, Ray Emery was yanked from the game after giving up five goals on 17 shots. So much for a first impression, right? Emery has a 5.36 GAA in his last five starts, including Saturday, and an ugly .814 save percentage.
Brian Boucher wasn’t much better in relief. He gave up two goals in his first four minutes, leaving the Flyers begging for mercy.
Want to know the best part? Alex Ovechkin didn't even play, serving the final game of his two-game suspension.
Most fans left the building after the second period - where the Easton Ice Hawks' Mites on Ice team received more cheers than the Flyers.
The real questions are:
-Will Dan Carcillo be begging for mercy on Sunday to NHL dean of discipline Colin Campbell? Will he be begging for mercy from Laviolette? Carcillo’s game misconduct means that the punch will automatically be reviewed for supplementary discipline by the league.
-Will the Flyers be begging for mercy on Sunday morning from Laviolette, who also put them through an abnormally tough pre-game skate on Saturday morning?
It will be interesting to see how Laviolette handles Carcillo’s fight. In Carolina, he had a strict “no fighting” rule unless it was in self defense.
Here is what Laviolette told the Raleigh News and Observer in 2007:
“I have a very strict no-fighting policy for our team,” Laviolette said. “Last year in the playoffs (defenseman) Mike Commodore got into a fight and I said, ‘OK, that’s it. No more fighting.’ I simply cannot afford to lose a player like Mike Commodore to an injury he may sustain in a fight.
“Take a guy like Erik Cole. If we allowed him to fight, I know he would do it. Now if he gets hurt in a fight, our team has lost a very valuable asset. How do I justify that? I can’t. It just doesn’t make sense to me to allow our guys to fight.”
After the game, Laviolette said that he only imposed that rule because the Hurricanes didn’t have a fighter.
“Well, one it was the playoffs, and two we didn’t have a fighter,” Laviolette said. “For me to send Erik Cole in to fight or somebody else, whomever it may be. The make up of Carolina is completely different from the makeup of Philadelphia. I’m OK with Danny’s fight.
“What I said was we need to be more disciplined and stay out of the penalty box on two minute minor penalties because we’re frustrated about something.”
If I had to wager, I’d say that Carcillo will be suspended by the NHL for three or four games. I wouldn’t be shocked if it was five. In the NHL's eyes, he is a repeat offender - having been suspended twice before by the league.
“Obviously, I’m not happy with our player,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. “That shouldn’t have happened. That’s the bottom line.”
“Probably,” Carcillo said when asked if he thought he would be suspended. “I don’t know what they’re thinking.”
Holmgren said that he had not heard from the NHL as of 10:00 p.m. but that he usually receives a call sometime before midnight if a suspension is coming.
Nine minute penalty kill or not, the Flyers were only trailing 4-1 at the end of the ordeal. That’s a far cry from 8-2. Holmgren had little explanation for what else happened - other than the same reasons we've been hearing for weeks.
“To me, it looked like our team was not into the game,” Holmgren said. “I know there was a lot of stuff that happened over the last 24 hours. I don’t think Peter put that much new into the game plan. We didn’t have a lot going.”
Isn’t that why John Stevens’ head rolled on Friday?