The ECHL, the NHL’s minor minor league, is notorious for having scrappy players. A few weeks ago, a fight broke out during a Kansas City Mavericks and Toledo Walleye game that resulted in everyone on the ice participating.
Garrett Klotz, a player for Kansas City, checked A.J. Jenks into the boards then started to cross-check him while he was already laying down on the ice. This caused players from both sides to swarm and start a scuffle.
Koltz ended up getting a measly eight game suspension. The NHL and even the AHL gives out suspensions far longer than that for things far less devious. Considering Klotz isn’t new to fighting (he’s had 150 career fights and 97 penalty minutes this year) nor a first-time offender, it seems baffling that that’s all he got.
A player on Toledo’s team who used to play for Kansas City, Kevin Tansey, addressed the media afterwards:
Tansey speaks about how it all seemed premeditated and almost as if Kansas City was told by possibly coaches or leaders on the team to go out and start fights. While that maybe be okay if the other team’s player is willing to participate, it crosses a line when they’re unaware. Tansey’s comments sound like there could possibly be a bounty system going on where players get paid extra for certain fights or hits, something that’s unequivocally illegal.
Koltz denied the claim in a statement released by Kansas City:
“I want to be clear that I acted on my own accord,” Klotz said. “I was not sent onto the ice to do anything but play. Hockey is an emotional game and I did not contain myself appropriately.
“My actions are not indicative of who I am as a person or a player, having been suspended only once in my 10-year career.”
Whether or not the fight was premeditated, the suspension still remains weak for Koltz. Letting him off with just eight games makes it seem like the league doesn’t mind, as if they’re just doing the bare minimum. If Koltz was a star player in the league or on his team, then maybe the low suspension would make sense- it would still be wrong, but it would make some sense. However, he’s not. Koltz has had only two assists this season and played with three different teams. There’s no reason for the ECHL to protect a player like him.