By now, we all know about the fight that took place near the beginning of last Saturday’s Rock-Roughnecks game involving Geoff Snider and Pat Campbell. I mentioned this in my game review and said I’d get back to it later. Well, now it’s later. But I’ve looked over the replay again a number of times and I think I’ve changed my mind a little. Campbell’s move was still unwise and put the Rock at a disadvantage, but after watching the replay (the TSN feed was better than the one in the video I linked to in my game review) and hearing and reading interviews with other people about him, not to mention his own words describing what happened, I think I understand why he did what he did, and I think I’m OK with it.
I’m pretty sure this is the first lacrosse fight I’ve ever seen involving one goalie but not two. Let’s start with the play as I saw it. Snider is behind the net with the ball. He gets double- and then triple-teamed by Rock defenders Rob Marshall, Phil Sanderson, and Ryan Sharp. He takes a hit to the face (Sanderson) then gets cross-checked from behind (Sharp), then takes another hit to the face (Sanderson again). Snider’s helmet comes off and he goes down. He then gets up rather upset (understandably), drops his gloves, and heads towards Sanderson. As he’s pulling Marshall out of the way, Campbell, who has not been involved until now, runs over to Snider and punches him in the face. The refs try to pull them apart but Snider pulls Campbell’s helmet off, then they separate and Campbell takes his own jersey and shoulder pads off. They’re just about to go at it when Snider trips over the pile of pads on the floor and falls. Campbell drops beside him and throws two huge punches before the refs break it up. That’s it.
It wasn’t much of a fight. I’m not sure Snider actually landed any real punches, but he was given five for fighting anyway. Campbell was given five for fighting, two for instigating, and a game misconduct. He first went to the penalty box and then to the dressing room through a sea of high-fives from his teammates. I was watching the game on TV and my twitter feed on the laptop at the same time, and there were lots of tweets about the fight, mostly positive. I know I’m in the minority when it comes to fighting – I don’t particularly like it, but most people do, and that’s fine. As long as it’s not a pre-determined thing or people who are primarily fighters are sent out just to fight, I’m OK with it. Snider had been hit illegally three times within about five seconds, and no penalties were being called, so I can’t blame him for wanting to fight. But Campbell wasn’t involved and the way I saw it originally, there was no reason for him to get involved unless he questioned Phil Sanderson’s ability to defend himself.
Campbell’s actions did put the Rock at a disadvantage, in a number of ways:
- Campbell was ejected, so Matt Roik had to come in and play the rest of the game. If Roik had been injured during the game, the Rock would have been in deep trouble. I was going to say that Roik had minimal time to warm up, but this was only 4 minutes into the game, so his pre-game warm-ups were probably sufficient.
- Calgary got a two-minute power-play.
- The Rock lost Bill Greer for two minutes, since someone had to serve the penalty.
The first game of the NLL season featured the Roughnecks in Toronto, and during that game Snider had been chirping Roik incessantly, and it did look at one point like it would come to blows, but never did. There was some talk that the event on Saturday was somehow related to that, and it was even suggested that Campbell (who has a bit of a reputation) was given the start for that reason – not specifically to fight Snider, but just so that the Roughnecks might think twice about trying to get under the goalie’s skin. Maybe so, but I think the whole Snider-Roik thing was overblown and I doubt the Rock were really thinking about revenge for that minor incident three weeks later.
In a post-game interview, Campbell said “I saw his gloves come off and I knew he was ready to go. We are a team, a tough team and we don’t fight our own fights, we fight for each other“. I’ve since heard a number of interviews with people talking about what a great teammate Campbell is and how he would do anything for his teammates. It sounds like he was willing to fight Snider so that Flip didn’t have to, but not because he was questioning Sanderson’s ability. Maybe he figured that he stood a better chance against Snider than Flip did. Maybe he figured that sitting in the penalty box for five minutes himself wouldn’t hurt the team as much as having Sanderson in the box for five.
But the most likely explanation is that he didn’t figure anything. He didn’t think at all – just acted to defend his teammate. Not because the teammate couldn’t defend himself, but just because that’s what teammates do. I can’t fault him for that.