RALEIGH — After the Carolina Hurricanes’ morning skate today in preparation for tonight’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Boston Bruins at RBC Center, non-suspended Hurricanes forward Scott Walker answered questions about his punch to Aaron Ward’s left eye toward the end of Game 5 Sunday in Boston.
Walker was asked if NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell had been sympathetic.
“I think for the first letter of the law, I guess on the first ruling was the instigator, he clearly thought that I wasn’t out there trying to intimidate, or anything in the rule — which I wasn’t. I was trying to defend a teammate,” said Walker, who got involved with Ward after the blueliner had been jostling with Matt Cullen. “It was unfortunate what happened. Like I said, I haven’t been known as a player that hits somebody without their gloves on and the way he was, I thought there was a fight, and there wasn’t, apparently. So I’ll pay my fine and accept the penalty.”
As for remorse, Walker sounded half regretful and half like a guy who was still blaming the victim.
“Nobody likes to hit somebody when they’re not really protecting themselves. But in the same sense, I’ve been on the other side when you’re not protecting yourself and you get hit. I think it’s tough, watching that game, Tim Conboy … if you watch his fight earlier on with (Shawn) Thornton, if you watch it closely, he never had his gloves off halfway through that fight, but he’s still doing a job to protect himself; he knew there was a fight going on. I guess I feel the same way. I felt like we were going to be fighting. I went over there, pushed him, I thought he punched me, I dropped my gloves and swung.
“Obviously I don’t feel good about it. You never want to see anybody get hurt or go down like that. For that, I’m sorry. But I’ve been on the other end where there’s nothing going to happen and you get punched. So I think you have to defend yourself.”
Walker went on to say that Donald Brashear and other guys have punched him a few times before the “fight actually got started” in the past.
“Just because you got punched before you were ready, it definitely stuns you. That’s happened lots over the years, there’s been a lot worse ones. I don’t think where this fits (among) all the ones we’ve all seen in history. But it didn’t look good on tape, it didn’t look good on slow-mo on replays. But if you watch the whole thing happen, if you take the whole game and the whole thing in context, I don’t think it was — obviously, it was a $2,500 fine, I didn’t get suspended — but I don’t know what else you guys want to hear. I’m not proud of it. I’m not hoping my career is defined on that punch. Obviously, I hadn’t had a penalty in the playoffs till that point. I was zero penalty minutes and played the game pretty hard against New Jersey and against Boston.
“It’s unfortunate, but we’ve got to move on and we’ve got to play better.”