WILMINGTON, Mass. — Over the weekend, I wrote a column calling for opposing players to stop jumping Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart every time he knocks someone over.
Well, as it turns out, I seem to have more of a problem with this epidemic than Stuart does.
“I don’t really care, whatever. It’s going to happen. It doesn’t bother me,” he said after practice today at Ristuccia Arena. “I see myself doing the same thing. So I can’t really say anything.”
Stuart’s hit on Jay McClement Saturday night invited B.J. Crombeen to step up to Stuart with the gloves off. It was Stuart’s third fight of the season, all as a result of him hitting one player and that guy’s teammate jumping in. Last season, he even suffered his long-term finger injury in a similar situation, as Wayne Simmonds went after Stuart for a hit on Los Angeles star Anze Kopitar.
But Stuart understands the perspective of the player that comes to his teammate’s defense.
“I think during the game it’s kind of hard to judge [clean or dirty],” said Stuart. “Most of the time, they probably don’t know who’s hitting who or if it’s dirty or not. So I don’t think they know during the play. It doesn’t bother me. I feel like I hit clean, so …”
So Stuart will keep putting up his dukes when forced. Can he hold up the length of the season if he has to fight a dozen or more times? We might have to find out, and he’s OK with it.
“That means I’m getting my hits in, so that’d be a good deal,” said Stuart.
Here’s another look at Stuart’s hit on McClement and fight with Crombeen: