Rangers vs. Panthers Video: Watch Tomas Kopecky Sucker Punch Michael del Zotto

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2011

The NHL has some of the toughest men on the face of the earth gracing its ice, but sometimes emotions run high.

That’s what happened when the New York Rangers took on the Florida Panthers and things got physical in front of Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers’ net.


UPDATE: Saturday, Dec. 31, 2:30 p.m. ET by Donald Wood

It looks like the NHL saw it my way and agreed that both men were equally at fault for the incident and the melee that ensued. NHL.com is reporting about the incident:

New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto and Florida Panthers forward Tomas Kopecky have been fined $2,500 apiece, the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for their respective actions during an altercation in NHL Game No. 553 in Sunrise, Fla., on Friday, Dec.30, the National Hockey League's Department of Player Safety announced today.

While the punch from Kopecky was out of line, you can’t ignore all of the contact between the two leading up to that moment. Del Zotto hits Kopecky in the head twice before the actual sucker punch.

This should be the end of the story, at least until these teams meet again.


Florida’s big forward Tomas Kopecky was involved in a heated battle with Rangers defender Michael del Zotto in front of the net where the two battle for position. Things got physical and del Zotto may have hit him in the face with his stick and ripped his helmet off.

So when the Rangers fans start to say he wasn’t provoked, they need to take a big step back and pull their head out of the sand.

While Kopecky’s cheap shot is not excusable, he did have his glove on still, so the amount of damage the shot could have cause is limited. The problem really comes after the punch.

If it just ended there then everything would have been fine, but this is the NHL. Revenge is served boiling hot every night.

As New York players see the punch from Kopecky, they immediately begin to jump the big forward. This caused the inevitable chain reaction of players trying to protect their own and led to a wild melee.

Whatever side you fall on this topic of the sucker punch, most people should agree that everything that happened after is perfectly fine. It’s the Wild West on the ice, so if you do the crime, you’re going to get punched in the face.


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