That was no sucker punch

TED WYMAN

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

Anybody who thinks Jordin Tootoo's blow to the chops of a Dallas player was a sucker punch is a sucker himself.

The Stars players expressed shock and outrage at the incident in which Dallas defenceman Stephane Robidas was charging at Tootoo at full speed and took a flying gloved fist to the face. We're pretty sure Robidas wasn't on his way over there to wish the Nashville Predators player a Happy Easter, so what did he expect?

The fact is, Tootoo reacted more quickly than Robidas anticipated and leveled him with one punch. It was a borderline cheap shot because Tootoo didn't drop his gloves and Robidas clearly wasn't ready, even though he came at the Predator with his head up.

This is not even mentioning the fact that Mike Modano, the player Robidas was defending, took a swing at Tootoo with his stick, but missed, fortunately for everyone involved.

Tootoo has every right to defend himself in that situation and it was really just unlucky for both players that Robidas got cold-cocked.

Tootoo may have deserved a small suspension, not as much as five games, because the league had to make some sort of statement over yet another incident that looks ugly in the eyes of American fans.

Maybe Tootoo will learn from this and next time he'll wait for his opponent to throw the first punch before he reacts.

We think not.

FIGHTING BAN: Of course none of this will matter if the NHL uses the Tootoo incident and the one involving Winnipeg's Colton Orr of the Rangers and Todd Fedoruk of the Flyers as an impetus to get fighting banned. From our standpoint, fighting shouldn't be eliminated entirely. The legitimate scuffles that rise out of the heat of the moment in the corners or in front of the net have a place in hockey. The staged stuff -- the retribution bouts for past sins and the players skating to centre to put on a show for the fans -- is pure WWE and should be gone.

PAST CRIMES: Last week we made it clear we thought Chris Simon got what he deserved for swinging his stick at Ryan Hollweg's head. But how embarrassing is it for the NHL that this incident, which netted the longest suspension in league history, did not result in a criminal charge, while attacks that resulted in lesser suspensions to Todd Bertuzzi and Marty McSorley did? Bertuzzi was convicted of assault causing bodily harm and served 20 games. McSorley was convicted of assault with a weapon and served 23 games. Again, the NHL got it right with Simon, but the suspensions handed to those other two goons were a travesty ... Martin St. Louis won the Hart and Art Ross Trophies in 1994 with 94 points. This year he'll likely have more than 100 points and won't even have a sniff at either award ... My Hart Trophy candidates: Crosby, Brodeur and Lecavalier, in that order ... Don't look now, but for the second straight year Joe Thornton is having an unbelievable second half and could overtake Crosby for his second straight come-from-behind Art Ross Trophy.

PASS THE BBQ SAUCE: Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez, he of the $160 million contract, was selling a fancy grill, which he only used once, on EBay (hey, it was supposed to come with an autographed baseball). The bidding was at $99,999,999 for the $4,000 grill before it got removed from the auction site due to legitimacy concerns. Man, even the hot dogs at Fenway Park aren't marked up that much ... Don't worry, rumour has it Ramirez intended to donate all the proceeds to his favourite charity -- the Manny-Needs-A-New-Haircut-Fund ... Shocker! WWE stars have been implicated in a steroid and HGH investigation. We should have known when doctors warned that the symptoms of excessive use included feigned rage and lousy acting ... Fans at a high school basketball game at Madison Square Garden brawled in the stands and carried the fight into the streets, resulting in 21 arrests this week. This is what happens when you combine a basketball game with the Artest family reunion ... New Miami Dolphin Joey Porter recently scrapped with one of the Cincinnati Bengals at a Las Vegas blackjack table. Which begs the question, how did a member of the Bengals get gambling in Vegas as a parole condition?

QUICK HITS: Let's start off with Pete McEntegart of SI.com, on the recent Las Vegas dustup between Joey Porter of the Miami Dolphins and Levi Jones of the Cincinnati Bengals: "Simply by not being arrested, though, Jones earned the Bengals, 'Citizen of the Week' award." ... Comedian Frenchie McFarlane on a lesson to be learned from the Porter-Jones scuffle at a blackjack table in Vegas: "Don't ever, ever say 'hit me' within earshot of Joey Porter." ... From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: "Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr celebrated a double birthday of sorts (this week). He turned 59, and his knees turned 89." ... The Chicago Tribune asked Cubs manager Lou Piniella what he sees in relief pitcher Neal Cotts: "I see he gives up runs every time he pitches." ... Elliott Harris of the Chicago Sun-Times, on U.S. sports network ESPN introducing plans to televise a Rock/Paper/Scissors competition: "No word how negotiations with the Red Rover and Hopscotch people are going." ... Ian Hamilton of the Regina Leader-Post on English soccer club Chelsea ordering fans to stop tossing leafy green vegetables around the stands during games after referees complained: "Chelsea has become the first Premier League team to operate under a celery cap." ... Dan Daly of the Washington Times on Chicago Bears defensive lineman Tank Johnson making an impassioned plea to the judge for leniency before being sentenced to jail time: "Maybe he'll have better luck when he tells his cellmate, 'I don't believe a 300-pound defensive tackle belongs in the top bunk.'" ... From the Tonight Show's Jay Leno: "Are you like me, do you get confused? I got my NCAA Tournament bracket mixed up with my American Idol brackets and in the finals I now have Lakisha beating Ohio State." ... Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post on the NCAA basketball tournament: "Duke is gone and UConn and Syracuse weren't invited to The Dance. So it's official, then. This global-warming stuff is out of control." ... Ian Holloway, manager of the Plymouth English soccer club, had this to say to The Sun of London, after a 1-0 loss to Watford in the FA Cup: "We threw everything we could at them -- the kitchen sink, the golf clubs, everything. We emptied the garage and threw it at them, at least my garage is tidy now." ... Finally, Richard Oliver of the San Antonio Express-News on golfer Boo Weekley being assessed a two-stroke penalty for taking a flag out of a hole for a fellow golfer, without permission: "Poor guy grabbed the stick and got the shaft."


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