SAN JOSE -– The chatter began in warmups, when Sharks winger Micheal Haley and Oilers tough guy Luke Gazdic conversed near the red line.
It didn’t appear to be a mean-spirited discussion. Probably more along the lines of a “how is this going to do down?” sort of thing.
A little more than three minutes into the game everyone found out when Haley and Darnell Nurse dropped the gloves, allowing players on both teams to move on from when Nurse walloped an unsuspecting Roman Polak at Rexall Place on March 8. Haley got the better of Nurse, too, landing a couple right hands.
The Sharks scored the game’s first two goals shortly after the fight but sagged over the final two periods in a 6-3 loss to the Oilers.
Haley indicated that Nurse acknowledged that a bout was going to occur when they lined up across from one another on an early faceoff. He credited the rookie for facing the music after several Sharks players were upset with his actions against Polak, which also earned him a three-game suspension from the NHL.
“I was going to ask him [to fight]. I’ve said before, [the NHL is] not like how it used to be, so if it doesn’t, you continue to play and I would just make sure I get my bumps on him,” Haley said.
Polak was asked if he appreciated Haley’s effort.
“I did, and he did a great job against him,” Polak said. “He was ready for anything, he was just going right after him and did a great job there.”
“Hales was great. Our group needed that. Credit to Nurse for answering the bell and doing what he did. It’s over, and that’s good.”
The fight was Haley’s sixth in 11 games with the Sharks this season. The last time he was recalled for a pair of games against Vancouver in early March it was partially to fill in for an injured Melker Karlsson, but also to deter a player like Derek Dorsett, who was running around a bit in an earlier match between the two clubs.
“Every time he’s come up this year he’s provided that boost for us,” Joe Pavelski said. “It’s not an easy role. I have a ton of respect for him. Got the building going and guys come out and respond well.”
Not everyone agreed with the organization recalling Haley, however.
On the Edmonton broadcast, color commentator Drew Remenda remarked after the fight: “When you bring a guy up from the minor leagues just to fight a 21-year-old kid, I think you’ve got to reexamine your values.”