The NHL announced this afternoon that Scott Walker has been charged with a fine of $2,500
and will not be forced to miss any game action as a result of punching Boston’s Aaron Ward near the end of Sunday’s Game 5.
“We are satisfied with the league’s ruling,” Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford said in a team release. “Our team received several punches throughout the series leading up to Game 5, it was a matter of time before one was going to be thrown back.”
“I accept the league’s decision,” Walker said, also in the release. “Based on what was said on the ice as I was dropping my gloves, it was my understanding that I was engaged in an altercation.”
Although the suspension for receiving an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of a game is automatic, in this case the league chose to waive that punishment, likely because of what Walker stated above.
The incident served as the culmination of a game that featured physical liberties from both sides. Although there had been plenty of hitting in the series up until that point, last night’s game was the first in which certain plays approached the line of what could be considered good, clean hockey.
One might expect that to continue over into tomorrow night’s Game 6 at the RBC Center, but the Hurricanes don’t seem to see it that way. In fact, with so much on the line, it may even turn out to be the opposite as neither team wants to put itself at a disadvantage.
“There’s a lot at stake here so I don’t think we’re going to be doing things that are going to get us in the box, that’s for sure,” said Rod Brind’Amour.
“I think you’ll see both teams come out with a real focus on discipline and the task at hand,” said Canes Coach Paul Maurice. “I think that the game is still played between the whistles, and neither team can afford to spend that much time in the penalty box in Game 6’s and 7’s of a series."
Even if Walker had been taken out of the lineup, that wouldn't have necessarily caused Paul Maurice and his staff to make any other changes, as winger Ryan Bayda is expected back after missing the last two games with an illness.