by Kate Shefte
This afternoon, NHL officials announced that Scott Walker will be fined $2,500 for his involvement in a scrum in the final minutes of Game 5, in which he punched Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward in the face with his bare fist. Ward didn’t try to defend himself and could be out for the rest of his team’s playoff run, however short or long it may be, with what is suspected to be a broken orbital bone. Tests are still underway.
According to ‘Canes GM Jim Rutherford, the automatic suspension given to Walker was rescinded during a hearing with league disciplinarian Colin Campbell, as it was ruled the hit was not a "sucker punch."
"Based on what was said on the ice as I was dropping my gloves, it was my understanding that I was engaged in an altercation," Walker said in an official statement.
Now that’s strange. Ward and Walker were clearly jabbering back and forth, and Walker claims he understood the confrontation to be an “altercation” (even though the league discourages those in the last few minutes of the game.) No one knows what happened, unless someone out there can read lips. Maybe Ward asked Walker to punch him and he obliged – we have no idea. But the league overlooked Ward’s helpless stance and Walker’s late game frustration and no more disciplinary measures will be handed down as a result of this game.
$2,500 is nothing to a professional athlete; that’s less than a twelfth of what Walker makes per game. What kind of lesson does this send? None whatsoever. Another example of the NHL’s spotty and confusing disciplinary system. This hit from earlier in the Ducks/Red Wings series didn’t earn disciplinary action, so why should Walker’s non-suckerpunch?