According to Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, Walker was under the assumption that Ward actually threw the first punch. Seriously.
"I went over there, pushed him and I thought he punched me and I dropped my gloves and swung," said Walker. "You never want to see anyone get hurt or go down like that and for that I'm sorry. But I've been on the other end, where you think nothing's happening and you get punched. So I think you have to defend yourself. But it's not something I'm proud of, that's for sure."The key phrase, of course, is "I thought he punched me." Now, I'm not much of a brawler. The last fight I was in was probably during fourth-grade recess centered around a four-square game, and I believe it involved more name-calling and pushing than actual punching. That said, I think I'd have a pretty good idea as to whether or not somebody punched me.
Let's go back to the video:
Yeah, I'm not seeing much of a punch there, unless you count that shove to Walker's arm. Ward, who is expected to play on Tuesday, called Walker's explanation "a convenient story that the NHL accepted."
By rule, Walker should have received, at minimum, a mandatory one-game suspension for his instigator penalty in the final five minutes of regulation. The NHL, however, rescinded that suspension and slapped Walker with a $2,500 fine. That, of course, begs the question: what's the purpose of having the rule if the NHL can just step in and overrule it?
His presence on the ice for Game 6 on Tuesday should make for a rather interesting night.
According to the Boston Globe's Bruins Blog, general manager Peter Chiarelli speculates that the instigator penalty was wiped out after the fact, which led to the suspension being rescinded. He also believes Walker should have been called for being the third man into the altercation. From Fluto Shinzawa:
"What's missing is the third man in," said Chiarelli. "He's scuffling with Cullen. I can understand if Walker comes in and they engage. Maybe I could see them rescinding there. To me, it was an ambush."The Hurricanes hold a 3-2 lead in the increasingly physical series, as the two teams combined for 81 penalty minutes on Sunday.