It was a headline hattrick for the Pittsburgh Penguins Friday. The team made news acquiring 26-year-old left winger David Perron from the Edmonton Oilers, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3, and earlier in the day when superstar Evgeni Malkin and tough guy Craig Adams dropped the gloves in practice.
The incident apparently occurred during a ‘battling’ drill at the team’s morning skate. Despite Adams clearly being the more well-versed and experienced fighter, pictures and video evidence of the skirmish suggest it was Malkin who had the last laugh, as Adams was seen leaving with a bloodied face.
Not Slowing Them Down
The fisticuffs didn’t seem to have any lasting impacts heading into the team’s contest versus the Lightning, though the 37-year-old Adams did play the game wearing a face-shield around his jaw Friday. Malkin looked no-worse for wear, as the Russian superstar picked up a goal and a helper to give him 43 points on the year, good enough for third in the NHL.
Following the practice the two apparently talked things over and there doesn’t seem to be any bad blood between them. The Pens teammates have played alongside each other for the past seven seasons and even spent time on the same line during Friday’s win.
Could Have Been Much Worse
Though everything seems to be fine and dandy and the two are likely to shrug it off, one has to wonder what the response would have been had Adams gotten the better of Malkin and delivered a shot that kept the offensive-centre sidelined. During his 914-game career Adams has tallied just 55 goals and 157 points while racking up 650 penalty minutes. Meanwhile Malkin has been one of the most dynamic players in the NHL since his rookie season back in 2006-07, compiling an impressive 257 goals and 675 points in 556 games. A loss to Malkin would create a big offensive hole in the lineup, not one that could be filled by Adams, that’s for sure.
The 28-year-old Olympian has brought home a lot of hardware during his tenor in the NHL, winning the Calder Trophy in his rookie campaign, two Art Ross Trophies, the Hart and Ted Lindsay Trophies in 2011-12, and the Conn Smythe Trophy during the team’s Stanley Cup win in 2008-09. Meanwhile Adams’ career highs in goals in a season is 10 and his highest point total in one season is 21.
The former ninth round pick in 1996 entry draft has dropped the gloves 49 regular-season fights during his NHL career, while Malkin has four fights to his name with none of them coming during the regular season.
It’s interesting to consider that likely a few of the fights under Adams’ belt may have been in an attempt to make sure opposing players don’t take exception to the team’s stars such as Malkin or Sidney Crosby. While Friday he was scraping with those he has served to protect.
It’s All Part of the Game
Teammates fighting is nothing new to the NHL. In 2012 the Montreal Canadiens made headlines after former Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec dropped the gloves during a practice. In fact Friday marked the three-year anniversary of the fight between the two. And back in their hay-days in Detroit, Keith Primeau and Bob Probert dropped the gloves in practice as well.
These fights, like the Malkin and Adams tilt, don’t seem to suggest any form of dislike between the athletes. Rather it seems to be a case of two guys full of testosterone and the willingness to go hard in practice like they do in the game.
The fight doesn’t seem to have had any lasting effects on the team as with their win Friday the Pens jumped into a tie with the New York Islanders for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The team will also get the aforementioned added boost to their lineup when they finally welcome Perron to the squad. The first round pick in 2007 is expected to be in the lineup Saturday when the Pens take on the Montreal Canadiens.
Craig is an intern at The Hockey News where he has written for both the website and the magazine. He is also a featured-blogger at http://www.hockeyforums.net/index.php/blog/46-its-a-canadian-game/. Craig has an Honours in Journalism from Wilfird Laurier University and is currently completing the Sports Journalism Program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman.