NASHVILLE -- In Game 1 of the Nashville Predators series against the Detroit Red Wings, defenseman Shea Weber slammed Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the glass as time expired in a move that infuriated Red Wings fans and players.
The NHL opted not to suspend Weber, fining him $2,500 instead.
And, as we know in the NHL, when the league doesn’t take care of justice, the players do it themselves.
In this case, it was Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi handing out the punishment, and it didn’t take long. Just 1:36 into the first period of Detroit’s 3-2 win over Nashville in Game 2, Bertuzzi dropped the gloves to fight Weber and stick up for Zetterberg.
“It’s hockey. Things happen in the game and whatever,” Bertuzzi said. “It’s kind of something you gotta do. You have to stick up for your teammates and do stuff like that.”
Said Weber: “Obviously, he’s sticking up for his teammate and I’m sure anyone in here would do the same thing if something happened to us.”
After the game, there was a short pause after Bertuzzi was asked if the fight naturally happened or if it was something he was going to make sure happened. Bertuzzi will forever be linked to his hit on Steve Moore in 2004, which makes any premeditated retribution a touchy subject for the big forward.
“It’s a hockey play,” he answered. “It’s part of the game.”
The Red Wings aren’t a team built for fighting, so the list of candidates to take on Weber was a short one. It provided the Red Wings an emotional lift early in the game and Detroit jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the fight.
“That’s good to see. I thought we got that out of the way early,” Detroit forward Danny Cleary said. “We’re not a team built for that type of retribution or answers. Bert took it upon himself. He’s the biggest guy we’ve got.”
Perhaps the ideal solution would have been a suspension from the league, but when that didn’t come, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said sticking up for Zetterberg was a necessary action.
“It’s an important part of hockey, standing up,” Babcock said. “I just thought that the incident the other night wasn’t part of hockey. I haven’t seen it since junior hockey. I thought it was unacceptable and I think sometimes when things don’t get looked after [by the league] you have to look after it yourself. And I didn’t think things were looked after at all.”