Marty McSorley is not with the Kings in Edmonton for tonight’s game and he won’t be in Calgary for the game Thursday night. He earned a couple of unwanted days off when he refused to leave the ice after a fight late in the game against Calgary Saturday night.
Brian O’Neill, executive vice president of the National Hockey League, told the Kings Monday that McSorley would be suspended for two games for the double game misconduct penalties he picked up after that fracas.
Actually the two-game suspension was almost good news. McSorley had been afraid that he would be out for three games, and could have been if O’Neill had interpreted the rule literally. McSorley had received game misconducts on two separate occasions earlier in the season, so the penalties Saturday night were his third and fourth of the season.
The rule reads: " . . . any player who incurs a total of three game misconduct penalties shall be suspended automatically for the next league game of his team. For each subsequent game misconduct penalty the automatic suspension shall be increased by one game.”
So the third game misconduct cost him a one-game suspension and the next one should have resulted in a two-game suspension. Except that, as McSorley was arguing, the fourth penalty really was not the result of a subsequent incident. He wasn’t a repeat offender after sitting out a game, after having time to cool off and think about the stakes.
“I really thought the referee overreacted with double game misconducts,” McSorley said. “The officials knew why I wasn’t leaving the ice. I kept saying it.
“Why should I leave the ice first? Calgary didn’t have one of their players in position to leave the ice. They were all still standing right in there, challenging me. Tim Hunter was still coming after me--that was when Rollie (Melanson) got involved, when he (Hunter) came at me from behind. The fight wasn’t over. If I leave the ice at that point, we’re out-manned.”
But the officials clearly wanted McSorley out of the picture.
“That’s where my reputation comes in,” McSorley said.
In the first game the Kings played at Calgary this season, a fight broke out while the Kings were a man down. McSorley wasn’t involved. But one linesman made a beeline for McSorley and concentrated solely on keeping McSorley out of it. McSorley skated in wide circles on the ice, with the linesman in tow, holding on to the back of McSorley’s sweater.
“By making sure that I didn’t go over to help my teammates, (the linesman) left us in a five-on-three situation,” McSorley said. “That was the kind of thing I was trying to avoid by not leaving the ice first.”
Eventually, McSorley did walk off first. He was back in the dressing room when he learned that he had been assessed not only a five-minute penalty for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct, but also double game misconducts.
“Double game misconducts?” McSorley said. “That’s a little excessive. I was fighting a guy who was big enough to take care of himself. I wasn’t trying to hurt any of the officials. I even helped one guy up.
“I couldn’t believe double misconducts. At this point in the season? That takes me out of a game against the team we’re up against for second place (Edmonton) and a game against the team that’s leading our division (Calgary).”
Had the suspension been for three games, it would have taken McSorley out of two games against Edmonton, because the Oilers play the Kings here Saturday night. McSorley, one of the former Oilers who came to the Kings in the Wayne Gretzky trade, has played some of his best hockey against his old teammates. Three of his nine goals this season have been against Edmonton.
Even though his reputation as an enforcer works against him in these instances, McSorley is not working to change it.
“You’ve got to keep the reputation to a certain degree,” he said. “Just my presence stops a lot of the garbage. Do you think Calgary might play a different style of game against Wayne and Bernie Nicolls and Luc Robitaille if they didn’t have to worry about me and (Ken) Baumgartner and Jay (Miller)? Night and day, believe me.
“Me having a fight is better than somebody following Wayne Gretzky and trying to intimidate him. Maybe hurting him. What’s worse? What I do or what Esa Tikkanen (of Edmonton) does to Wayne, tormenting him and slashing at him and elbowing him and molesting him the whole game? Can we allow him to do that to the best player in the game?”