Chris Gordon/Russian Machine Never Breaks
Iafrate (right) and Stephenson tussle at the end of Thursday's scrimmage.
Fighting is part of the fabric of hockey. The sport is unique in that players can and will police themselves; any perceived wrongdoing will be met with swift, immediate and brutal action that referees will neither administer nor control.
Yet it might seem odd to some to see a fight break out during a scrimmage where all of the players participating, despite being separated into two teams, are all under the watch of one club.
Thursday at the Washington Capitals' Development Camp, tempers flared at the end of the week's third scrimmage as defenseman Max Iafrate and forward Chandler Stephenson dropped the gloves.
According to Iafrate, Stephenson hit him after he got rid of the puck, which was then followed by a cross check (Stephenson did not speak to the media).
As the final horn sounded, the two broke free from a larger scrum and handled their business.
None of this, however, should come as a surprise based on Iafrate and Stephenson's bloodlines; Iafrate is the son of Al, a former Cap that earned 1,301 penalty minutes over the course of his 12-year career, while Stephenson's cousin is Joey Kocur, a heavyweight enforcer who accrued over 2,500 penalty minutes and, according to HockeyFights.com, 217 fights during his 14-year career.
“It’s bound to happen when you get under someone’s skin," Iafrate said, adding that he'll fight "when opportunity knocks," but does not look to do so. "[Head coach Adam] Oates said he doesn't want us fighting, but when your adrenaline gets flowing...."
Oates, however, understood that in a high-intensity game where players are trying to stand out, frustrations can get the upper hand.
“I did talk to the guys," Oates said. "I really don’t want that. We’re all here under the Capitals umbrella. I know you want to show your stuff and there’s plenty of time for that down the road, but they still get frustrated at times and I understand that as well."
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