By: Will Burchfield
In hockey, it’s better to violate the rulebook than The Code.
The Flames felt Anthony Mantha was in violation of the latter when he rained down punches on a defenseless Travis Hamonic during Wednesday’s line brawl at Little Caesars Arena.
Mantha was pinned on top of Hamonic for about 30 seconds in the walkway between the two benches and appeared to land two or three shots toward Hamonic’s head. The Flames defenseman was bleeding from the face when he finally emerged.
“(Mantha) is a good, young player, I’ll give him that,” Hamonic said afterward. “But he’s a young player and he’s going to learn that there’s a code. When a guy is laying in the box, helpless on the ground, and he keeps throwing at me, that’s not right. He’s a young player, I’m sure he’ll learn from it. But that doesn’t sit well.”
Jeff Blashill came to Mantha’s defense when asked about Hamonic’s comments on Saturday.
“Two things I’d say. First of all, (Mantha) wasn’t really throwing. He could have done way worse, without question. He really didn’t do much when they were down from what I saw,” Blashill said.
Blashill went on to note that Flames’ forward Troy Brouwer was guilty of taking free shots at a defenseless Justin Abdelkader when the two players squared off in Calgary earlier this month.
“I really like this guy, think he’s a great player, but if you review the Brouwer-Abdelkader fight you’d see Abby was down and there were punches thrown once he was down. So let’s be careful with throwing stones around,” Blashill said.
Brouwer landed at least three punches toward Abdelkader’s head after the Red Wings forward had dropped to his knees. Abdelkader emerged from the fight with a fractured cheek bone.
“The other thing I’d say is, Mantha didn’t start that fight. He clearly had his gloves on for a long time,” said Blashill. “He didn’t start that fight.”
Mantha said he was trying to play peacemaker when he and Henrik Zetterberg dragged Hamonic out of the scrum between the two benches. When Hamonic got back to his feet, he immediately threw down his gloves and went after Mantha.
“I just tried to grab one guy and take him out of there, and he dropped the gloves pretty quick,” said Mantha. “I usually don’t stand down. He was throwing punches, I still had my two gloves on. I just tried to push him over our bench to be able to drop one glove at least, and I guess the door was open and we just fell right in.”
While he was on top of Hamonic, Mantha said he didn’t remember whether or not the official told him to get off.
“It went so quick. I know I was on the ground and (Hamonic) was throwing from underneath. I didn’t know what to do, to be honest. The official was on top of me, so I couldn’t even get up. At the end there, I was telling the ref to get up so I could move, and he just told me not to throw anymore,” said Mantha.