RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina Hurricanes right wing Scott Walker had to answer to the NHL Monday in the form of a disciplinary hearing, resulting in a $2,500 fine.
Tuesday, he had to answer to the media.
Walker, who received an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of regulation (which carries with it an automatic game misconduct) in Sunday's Game 5 for punching Boston's Aaron Ward in the face, said numerous times that he was not proud of what he did and also that he hoped the punch does not define a career in which he has reached the 20-goal plateau three times.
Walker said it was his belief that Ward knew the two were going to engage in a fight.
"I feel we were going to be fighting," Walker said of his thoughts at the time. "I went over there and pushed him, I thought he punched me and I dropped my gloves and swung. Obviously I don't feel good about -- you never want to see anybody get hurt or go down like that. For that I'm sorry. I've been on the other end where you think nothing's happening and you get punched. So I think you have to defend yourself. It's not something I'm proud of."
At times, the session grew testy, with Walker hurling an insult the media's way as he said that some of the pictures and video don't show him in a flattering light.
"[It's] incriminating in that if you look at just the still shots, yeah, it looks bad," he said. "But if you watch the whole thing and if you've ever been in a fight like I imagine not many of you have ever been from the looks of you -- and, or not very good ones -- that's my point. I didn't mean to go out there and say 'I'm going to go punch this guy without his gloves off.' That's not my intent. In the same sense, it's a game and a battle and things happen so quick out there."
By the end of the questioning, Walker was defensive.
"I don't know what else you guys want to hear," he said. "I'm not proud of it. I'm hoping that my career is not defined by that punch. Obviously I hadn't had a penalty in the playoffs [until then]. I had zero penalty minutes. I played the game pretty hard against New Jersey and against Boston. It's unfortunate. We've got to move on and play better."
An angry Ward took issue with a lot of what Walker said, especially Walker's characterization of saying, "Let's go." Ward said he was tussling with Carolina's Matt Cullen, who has a history of concussions –- ostensibly what caused Walker to come to Cullen's aid -– and the next thing he knew, he was on the ice.
"I don't remember a word being said," Ward said. "... I didn't even know Walker was involved. ... If you watch the video, you didn't see him talk to me."
Ward said he was "dusting off [Walker's] left glove" when he realized that he was involved in an altercation with Walker and not Cullen and that Walker could not have said he wanted to fight in "point-two seconds."
Ward said that mentally he was "a little rattled" by having to discuss the situation in front of so much media, but he certainly provided his share of colorful responses.
A member of Carolina's 2006 Stanley Cup title team, Ward can count a number of Hurricanes as friends. Asked if it was a difficult thing for him to witness, Erik Cole responded with a terse, "No, not really."
And Carolina coach Paul Maurice did not directly answer if he thought the play was a "sucker punch" as Boston has charged.
"We were very pleased with the ruling," Maurice said. "We told them how we saw it. The League agreed."