It’s one of the most memorable brawls in NHL history. During the 2011-12 season, the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils were in several scrums. They’ve always been rivals, but this particular season, something else was going on.
When they played each other late in the season, it didn’t take long for all hell to break loose. When the Rangers came to Jersey’s building earlier in the season, they started their fourth line.
The Devils chose to begin with their best guys, and it ended with the Rangers’ fourth line completely running over star players like Kovalchuck and Parise.
The Devils did the same thing when they came to the Rangers’ building. They started with their toughest guys, just like the Rangers had done, but John Tortorella, coach at Rangers at the moment, had a plan.
Tortorella came into the locker room before the game, and when he announced the starting lineup, the players thought it was a joke.
”He goes, you know, ’Rupper, left wing. (Brandon) Prust, right wing.’ And he goes and picks (Stu) Bickel, a defenseman, to take the faceoff. Torts leaves the room and we’re all kind of, like, ’What the hell’s going on here?’”, Mike Rupp told The Athletic.
Mike Rupp also shares what Bickel, a defenseman forced to take a faceoff, said before the puck dropped.
”Bickel comes over and he goes, ’Guys … how do I take a faceoff? Like, how do I put my hands?’ And I’m, like, ’You’re not out there to win the draw, dude.’”
Bickel didn’t win the faceoff, but no one cared. It was just the starting point of one of the most memorable brawls in NHL history, immediately after the opening faceoff.