Lehner wants NHL to impose an “Emery Rule”

Ottawa Senators goaltender Robin Lehner says it’s “disgusting” what Philadelphia Flyers netminder Ray Emery did to Washington Capitals counterpart Braden Holtby on November 1.

Ottawa Senators goaltender Robin Lehner says it’s “disgusting” what Philadelphia Flyers netminder Ray Emery did to Washington Capitals counterpart Braden Holtby on November 1.

That’s why an outspoken Lehner is in favour of a long-term suspension for similar incidents in the future. NHL general managers were expected to talk about a so-called “Emery Rule” during meetings Tuesday.

I think it’s a great call, I think (a suspension) is a good decision,” Lehner said Tuesday morning. “It’s one thing, stepping up and man to man fight. That’s what a lot of players do (if) both players want to fight and both drop (the gloves). Somebody makes a hit and they want them to kind of stand up for what they did.

“Maybe it’s not my business, but watching what happened to Holtby is disgusting. He didn’t want to (fight). He wasn’t capable of it, but (Emery) pounded him and he kept pounding him and (Holtby) didn’t want to. He got his glove off to protect himself.”

To recap, the Capitals led 7-0 when a fight broke out between Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds and Washington’s Tom Wilson. As they were exchanging punches, Emery left his crease and skated all the way to other end of the ice, challenging Holtby to fight. Holtby declined. Emery continued on. Referee Francois St. Laurent made a mild attempt to break up the exchange before Emery began raining punches down on Holtby.

Lehner is as fiery and competitive as anyone and he usually shows no hesitation in pushing back if an opposing player charges too hard into his net. He’s also no stranger to dropping the gloves and had a well-publicized fight with Riku Helenius when both were in the American Hockey League last season.

What Emery, did, however, was something completely different, according to Lehner.

You know, it’s the same in society,” he said. “Something happens, a fight, whatever, and it’s both of them, yes…but if I decide to jump you…then (I) get charged, (I) get charged with assault. There’s a line. You don’t just jump somebody who can’t defend themselves, I don’t think.

I think a suspension rule is a good thing.”

Emery, the former Senators goaltender who had celebrated fights with Buffalo Sabres goaltender Martin Biron, Sabres heavyweight Andrew Peters and a fight at practice with Senators heavyweight Brian McGrattan, wasn’t available for comment Tuesday. Flyers public relations officials said the organization had a team rule against goaltenders speaking publicly on game days.

While few players have been as outspoken as Lehner, there has been a general acceptance around the NHL that Emery’s actions were unacceptable. NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan acknowledged he didn’t like what the Flyers goaltender did, but said there was no existing rule in place for him to punish Emery.

There have been suggestions that the NHL will impose an automatic 10-game suspension for goaltenders who cross centre ice to engage in a fight, similar to the automatic 10-game suspensions players receive for leaving the bench to join a fight on the ice.

In interviews Monday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman suggested that Emery wouldn’t have acted the way he did if such punishment was in place.

Bettman and Emery saw each other last week at the White House, where the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks were being honoured. Emery served as a back-up to Corey Crawford last season, earning himself a Stanley Cup ring.

“I said: ‘Oh, Ray. It’s good to see you. I’ve been thinking about you.’ We had a nice chat,” Bettman told reporters. “And I said, ‘So just hypothetically, if there was a rule that said if you cross the red line to get into a fight with the other goaltender and you get a 10-game suspension, would you have done it?’ He goes, ‘What? Are you crazy?’ “

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