SUN Hockey Pool

Brawl to remember

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

Some memories don't die.

For some Edmonton Oilers, the sight of Mike Bishai fighting from inside the Atlanta Thrashers' bench is still vividly clear nearly 190 games later.

In eerie fashion, the Thrashers return to Rexall Place tonight for the first time since that infamous line brawl three years ago today.

"Bishai jumping in the bench and going at it right in their bench, that was the highlight of his NHL stint," cracked Edmonton Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish after yesterday's practice at Millenium Place in Sherwood Park.

"I guess it was another critical time for the Oilers."

That game easily ranks as one of the most memorable regular-season tilts in Rexall Place history.

BEDLAM ERUPTED

With just 1:49 left in the third period, bedlam erupted. Five fights broke out on the ice, including the goalies - Ty Conklin and Pasi Nurminen - trading blows.

But the highlight was clearly Bishai - a raw Oilers rookie - stumbling into the Atlanta box before standing up and beating up Serge Aubin, who was standing on the ice.

"I think the fight going on in the bench was something I hadn't seen and probably will never see again," said Oilers captain Jason Smith.

"It was something you used to see a lot in the early '80s, old-fashioned action."

The brawl resulted in 12 fighting majors, 10 game misconducts and 164 minutes in penalties.

It also meant Atlanta had to play the final 1:49 of the game without a goalie because starter Byron Dafoe left the game after the first period with a groin injury.

In total, there were seven fights in the game. Neither Edmonton nor Atlanta has been involved in games featuring seven fights since.

But don't expect to see anything resembling those fireworks when the two teams meet again tonight.

"It is a different era, the way the rules are in the league with instigators and second fights," continued Smith.

"It is more exciting to score goals and rip up and down the rink."

DIFFERENT ROSTERS

There's also the obvious matter of the rosters being rather different today.

Of the 12 players who fought, Smith is the only Oiler remaining.

Georges Laraque is in Phoenix. Ty Conklin and Jason Chimera are with the Columbus Blue Jackets organization.

Eric Brewer has moved on and plays with St. Louis.

And Bishai is playing senior hockey in British Columbia after leaving Russia.

Andy Sutton is the only fighter left on Atlanta's roster.

"I don't think it will be an issue at all (tonight)," concluded Smith.


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