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NHL line brawl: Sabres coach Ron Rolston fined

The NHL fined Buffalo Sabres head coach Ron Rolston for his role in the line brawl on Sunday night.


Buffalo Sabres head coach Ron Rolston has been fined for player selection and team conduct in relation to Sunday night's line brawl with the Toronto Maple Leafsthe NHL announced on Tuesday night.

The impetus of the brawl came after Buffalo enforcer John Scott attempted to engage Toronto forward Phil Kessel by dropping his gloves with the apparent intention of grabbing Kessel. The Maple Leafs forward responded by slashing at Scott, while the rest of the players on the ice joined the scrum. In addition, Toronto forward David Clarkson left the bench to aide his teammates, which resulted in an automatic 10-game suspension. Goaltenders Jonathan Bernier and Ryan Miller joined the action by fighting one another.

In total, 211 penalty minutes were assessed. Clarkson's 10-game regular season suspension was upheld and Kessel was suspended three exhibition games.

The decision to fine Rolston is controversial. The incident occurred after Corey Tropp of the Sabres and Jamie Devane of the Maple Leafs engaged in a fight, which resulted in Tropp's head hitting the ice. By sending out Scott, many perceive that Rolston was condoning the potential of another fight to occur, given Scott's well-defined role as a fighter.

Of course, it's important to note that Buffalo was the visiting team, which means Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle had the luxury of last change. Carlyle stated that he decided to send out Kessel's line as a way of defusing the situation, which he acknowledged in hindsight was an error in judgement.

Had the roles been reversed and Buffalo sent out Scott after seeing Kessel was on the ice, then the situation is more cut-and-dry. Either way, the incident has sparked a considerable amount of debate and many perceptions exist regarding allocation of blame.

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