Nick Foligno has opened up about his decision to fight Corey Perry in Friday night’s Leafs vs. Canadiens game.
Perry was involved in the play that led to Leafs captain John Tavares being stretchered off in the first period. The play was purely accidental, as Tavares was falling to the ice while Perry skated by in the neutral zone; his knee just happened to hit Tavares in the head as he fell.
Foligno acknowledged as much and didn’t blame Perry for the injury. But he felt the need to defend his captain and get his teammates back in the game.
“Our captain is laying on the ice. They would have done the same if [it was] their captain,” Foligno said, per Lance Hornby. ”[The hit] wasn’t malicious. [The fight] takes away any gray [area]. Perry’s a big boy. It just allows everyone to go back and play.”
Teams tend to respond with some sort of retaliatory measure if one of their players leaves a game with a bad-looking injury. Foligno, 33, and Perry, 36, have been around the game for a while and have seen that. As such, it’s no surprise that Foligno orchestrated the fight and Perry obliged.
However, because the injury was clearly unintentional, many fans voiced their disapproval of the scrap on Twitter.
Man I get what Foligno is doing here but what’s the point. Nothing Perry could do on that play.
— Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) May 21, 2021
That Nick Foligno fight might have been the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. Pointless. It was a freak accident, Perry probably feels horrible.
— Your Hockey Highness (@hockeywatcher96) May 21, 2021
To the point of the last tweet, Perry spoke about feeling “sick to his stomach” about the situation after the game.
“I honestly felt sick to my stomach when I saw him and the way he is,” Perry said. “It’s a scary situation. I’ll reach out to him and talk to him and hopefully he’s OK.”
But at the same time, Perry understood why Foligno challenged him.
“Nick came up to me and said, ‘Let’s just settle this now and not wait.’ And, you gotta do what you gotta do.”
Like the scrap or not, the play is now in the rearview mirror for both Toronto and Montreal. The two teams will continue their series as the Leafs look to find a way to win without Tavares.