Reactions to Jay Beagle and Arron Asham’s Fight

Jay Beagle fights Aaron Asham

Photo credit: Gene J. Puskar

Thursday’s game between the Penguins and Capitals was an exciting affair, but it was the third period fight between Jay Beagle and Arron Asham that got people talking.

Jay Beagle and John Carlson practice fighting last year.

After roughing Kris Letang, Jay Beagle was approached by Arron Asham, a known fighter with more than 70 bouts on his rap sheet according to The fight left Jay Beagle apparently knocked out, bleeding on the ice, and requiring help to get up. Asham skated away from the fight and made pro-wrestling-style gestures that could translate as “it’s over, he’s asleep.”

Beagle spit out blood, pulled out a tooth, and retreated to the locker room. As Beagle got up, Asham banged his stick from the penalty box out of respect. Arron and Jay served matching major penalties, Beagle doing so from off ice.  Also served by Beagle was the original two-minute penalty for roughing Letang. Asham was not assessed an instigator penalty.

We do not yet know the severity of Jay Beagle’s injury.

Here’s the fight:

Following the game, Asham took a lot of blame– some of it from us– for taunting and grandstanding after injuring a player. Alex Ovechkin said of the fight:

[Beagle is] not a fighter; it’s not his job to fight. I don’t know, it looked kind of not respectful for players on [a] different team. I don’t know what people think, but I think it’s not respectful.

Speaking to the Washington Times, defenseman Karl Alzner added:

It’s classless. But I know that happens in fights. It’s really crappy to see. Have some class a little bit, ya know?

That’s the way Beags is. He’s not going to back down from anybody. It’s unfortunate the way it happened. Hopefully he’s not out for too long. Asham’s doing his job. But I didn’t see what it did, but if he did do something, I expect more from him.

Aware of the criticism to his taunt, Arron responded:

It’s unfortunate the way the fight ended. Obviously I want to win. I don’t want to go out there and hurt anyone. My gestures at the end there, I was into the game. It was uncalled for. Classless on my part. I think those guys over there know that I’m not that type of guy to be going off. It was a big game you know. I wanted to get my bench going. Classless move on my part.

Where do we go from here?

For those allegations of classlessness, Asham gets mercy. He was contrite without being forced, and he faced his criticism head-on, which you have to admire.

The missing instigator call is disappointing in this writer’s opinion. Rule 46.11 of the NHL rulebook makes a good case for this example, but the rule hasn’t not been enforced regularly lately. So why is it on the books at all?

Our peers in Pittsburgh brought up the possibility that Beagle should have been penalized for wearing a visor during a fight, but skimming the rulebook (75.2.iv) tells us that call is only for instigators.

We asked our friends and readers, the really hockey-smart ones at least, to share their thoughts about the fight. Is there a warrior’s code that dictates the victor should be solemn in victory? Was Asham out of line? Was Beagle unwise to engage?

Gary L.:

from Dan Bylsma’s perspective, Asham did all the right things. The fight started because Asham felt he needed to defend Letang, which is pretty much the reason a guy like Asham is on an NHL roster. Added bonus: Pens are down a goal, and this is an opportunity to fire up the crowd and his bench. Asham wins the fight, he celebrates, firing up the crowd even more.

Beagle needs to make a better decision there and decline the fight when a guy like Asham challenges him. Also, when the instigator rule specifically notes “obvious retribution for a previous incident in the game or season” as one of the criteria for an instigator penalty, how does Asham not get an instigator here?

BJ G.:

I don’t think it was right at all. You gotta act like you’ve been there before. No one takes kindly to gloaters.

Jeff B.:

I wouldn’t go as far to say that a player should be totally solemn after winning a fight, especially in a rivalry game where he won with a strong knockout blow. No harm in a cocky smile or a look over at the bench, but I think the warrior code would say that such actions are an invitation for somebody else to step up and challenge him.

I do think that the gestures were over the top, and that a real warrior would let the punch speak for itself. It doesn’t break the warrior code, but it does indicate that the guy isn’t really much of a warrior.

Abram F.:

In itself I don’t think the fight was warranted, but Asham saw Beagle messing with Letang and it’s understandable on his part to step up. Beagle accepted, got his butt whupped, and that’s fine.

It’s not okay to taunt after knocking a guy out like that. In my mind, that doesn’t mean that a winning fighter shouldn’t be excited or demonstrative. I would have been fine if Asham had just raised his hand or interacted with the crowd or his teammates. It’s fine if you draw attention to yourself as a winner, and if it’s a fight to give your team energy, to draw attention to that. Fighting is showmanship. It’s absolutely out of line to make fun of an opponent’s injuries. Yeah, Asham skated away after dropping Beagle, but he was well aware that he did some serious damage with his last two punches, and that demands respect.

I’m not sure there is a real warrior’s code. There is one, inasmuch as people like Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and lots of other people in the media say there is. Is there a code in the practical sense, as observed by the players? Not so sure. There’s respect and understanding, but not this whole “unwritten” code like the one that gets lionized in baseball.

Photo Gallery

(Warning: these photos are a little graphic and could be upsetting.)

Jay Beagle fight

Photo credit: Gregory Shamus

Jay Beagle

Photo credit: Gene J. Puskar

Jay Beagle fight

Photo credit: Justin K. Aller

Jay Beagle bleeding

Photo credit: Justin K. Aller

Additional reporting by Ian Oland.

  • Nour Hijazi

    I am so appalled. Furious with Asham and the way he acted, proud of Beags for the sticking up for himself, and proud of Carlson and Alzner for being by his side then and there, and then again on twitter. Glad the better team won!

  • Cookie Monster

    The whole sequence started with an uncalled crosscheck by Letang on Beagle.  If the refs did their jobs better, players would be less likely to retaliate and end up in these situations.

  • SA-Town

    Has to be a 2 minute for instigating…and I would say gestures and taunts can get you 2 for unsportsmanlike and a fine.

  • K4

    Asham came to the defense of Letang….for having his helmet knocked off in a scrum HE initiated.  Switch it around and I would have been glad one of our guys picked a fight like this, but it doesn’t make it right.
    Letang can answer for himself.  He hides behind people like Asham.  He elbowed Backstrom in the chin (uppercut) along the boards (late 2nd period I think).  It seemed to stun him a bit. 

  • Why did Beags ever start a fight?!? I know that “stick up for yourself” stuff is nice and all, but really? Matt Hendricks was on the ice at the same time. If Asham has any problems, Beags should’ve told him to go to Matt and ask him about those problems.

  • Timothy

    This is the NHL folks…  As much as I am a Beagle fan, he made a choice to fight.   He should know and be able to size up his opponant.  I agree with the comments that were made about the Pens being down and the fight being used to spark up the team.  I did not see it as appropriate.  In actuality, I found it in good form that Asham tapped his stick at the end of the fight.

  • Recinosej

    Beags certainly shouldn’t have roughed letang the way he did, but I admire him for going against asham like that. Everybody knows that asham can scrap, and I would be terrified to face him.

  • Capsskinsfan

    The whole thing just shows how soft the Caps are.  Asham should have been taken into the corner and had the crap beat out of him for his dissing gestures.  But all we get are a few cuss words from Ovechkin. Soft, soft, soft

  • My only beef: the TOI report says that Asham was given one last shift (49 sec) after his fight with Beags in the third. The Caps were up at that point, 2-1. I get we’re winning, don’t want to risk a minor penalty, etc. But someone should have engaged him then.  I’m looking at you Chimera, Hendricks, and or Brouwer.

  • Anonymous

    Essentially the fight went like this

  • lol cry babies! if he is not a fighter,then why did he? lame excuses from a team of douchebags! nice pics of your lame ass punk bleeding,thanx!

  • A

    fuck you all. youre a bunch of damn idiots, these people get paid hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars to do this shit. calm the fuck down and quit trying to be some pro sports analyst. asham beat the fuck outta him got a little outta hand and taunted. big fucking deal its the sport. if youre gonna initiate with someone then take what you got coming you fucking pussy. damn youre all retarded. a bunch of little pussies that cant do anything other than wine all damn day. get a fuckin job.

  • Sarah

    Echoing the wise words of our young American Hero, to all Pens fans I say: go screw yourselves, u mutants.

  • You’re right on the money with this.  “Know your enemy” – everyone on that Caps team should be completely aware that Asham knows how to fight. 

  • Shotofreality

    For a fan base that constantly taunts Crosby, when did Caps fans get so sensitive to taunting? lol 

  • Jeremy

    Those who say Asham is classless obviously didn’t see the part when Asham gently let Beagle to his knees after the KO. Don’t fuck with someone while there’s an enforcer on the ice. Don’t accept the challenge to fight an enforcer if you can’t stay toe to toe.

    Sucks Beagle got his face smashed. But, it’s a part of the fight. I’m sure Asham knew he knocked him out, but I doubt he knew the severity of it. That’s probably part of why he apologized afterwards. Yes, the gestures following may have been uncalled for. But that kind of stuff is in any sport. It’s part of the competition for some people. You celebrate victory.

  • JustSayin

    Feels like I haven’t taunted him all year….

  • Peter

    Haha looks like Pittsburghers have crashed the comments.

  • Weenie head!

  • Shinaain

    “Those who say Asham is classless obviously didn’t see the part when Asham gently let Beagle to his knees after the KO.”

    Thank you! Finally, someone mentioned that. In addition to banging his stick out of respect, Asham (1) quit when he realized Beagle was out and (2) held on to Beagle’s jersey and broke his fall, gently lowering him to the ice. In so doing, he likely spared Beagle a concussion.

    While I’m not any kind of proponent of banning fighting in hockey, I definitely don’t appreciate some of the more contrived aspects of it. Asham copped to the lack of sensitivity (sensitivity being mentioned in regards to a hockey fight WTF? I know) inherent in his post-fight gestures, but I believe that he made up for it with his other actions and in acknowledging his gaffe.

  • CB

    I’ve watched hockey for 30 years and have been playing it for about 13 years.  I have to say that my stomach turned when I saw that.  I was hoping that Asham, knowning exactly what he just did to that player, would have shown some immediate compassion for a fellow hockey player, and issued in the linesmen and trainers for help.  That was so sad to watch.

  • Owen

    I think the difference is that, even though we would cheer if he got the crap beaten out of him, I don’t think we would cheer if he got injured.

  • Devin Shannon

    Once again, stay classy Pittsburgh!

  • Devin Shannon

    Once again, stay classy Pittsburgh!

  • How is Crosby’s yeast infection anyway?

  • Jim Sturgeon

    This is really a non-story considering Asham came out right away and apologized and called his gesture classless. Everyone has to throw down at some point – the argument about Asham being an “enforcer” (he isn’t) doesn’t even matter, especially given the size advantage Beags has over him. 

    He got embarrassed but we won. I wish we would’ve seen more of a reaction on the ice instead of on twitter though. That says a lot…

  • jgos

    They won the fight. We’re winning the war. Penguins sucks….Are there penguins in Pittsburgh?

  • Hockey Fan

    Beagle is a fairy.  First he cheap shots Letang, then he fights wearing a visor.  He threw five or six punches while Asham only threw two.  Beagle definitely got what he deserved.