BRANDON — It's been a week of NHL firsts for Matheiu Joseph, one of which he wanted and the other not so much.
The rookie scored his first NHL goal on Sunday, then received a message from Edmonton's Milan Lucic on Tuesday.
Joseph committed the first wrong, and got away with a cross-check to Kris Russell. Later, Lucic took the matter into his own hands, and escalated it.
Lucic tracked Joseph through the play, then delivered a big hit away from the puck and another once Joseph was on the ice, this time to the head. Lucic climbed on top of Joseph and kept swinging. At that point, everyone else joined in and a melee ensued.
Lucic had a phone hearing on Wednesday and was assessed a $10,000 fine, the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement. In game, he received minors for roughing and interference and a 10-minute game misconduct.
"I thought it was a premeditated, blind-side hit," Steven Stamkos said after the game. "I saw it live, I haven't seen it replayed. I'm sure the league will review that. I think Joe got cut too. You just don't want to see that."
Edmonton coach Todd McLellan saw it differently.
"You know, there's nothing wrong with that," he said. "We felt that a player took a liberty with Kris Russell. I agree with the liberty part of it and part of the reason we have Lucic here is to take care of teammates and he did that."
Joseph didn't think his hit on Russell was dirty, but did see the Oilers bench react and realized he might have gotten Russell from behind more than he thought.
"I think it was bad luck," he said. "Russell was in a vulnerable position and so was I."
Joseph didn't see Lucic coming. He came out of the corner, turned toward the net (and the puck), when Lucic leveled him. At first, Joseph didn't know who hit him and thought whoever it was would be heading to the bench for a line change. As he turned over on the ice, Lucic continued at him.
"I didn't expect something like that to happen after," Joseph said. "It was new for me. I think he was just trying to send a message and protect his teammate. I think maybe it's not the way to do it."
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said he didn't see the hit live because of the angle on the near corner. He has since watched the replay but declined to comment because it's out of his hands.
"The one thing I take from it, is they did what they had to do but I was really proud of our guys for getting in there and sticking up for each other," Cooper said.
Joseph credited Anthony Cirelli (6-0, 180 pounds) for not hesitating to try to get Lucic (6-3, 236) off him, saying it's good to have friends on the ice.
Cooper did comment on the way the league has changed on retribution, saying young players aren't brought up to jump on for a fight.
"Now it's the power play," he said. "So you score on the power play, or if it's a five-minute major and you can score as many times as you want. That's the payback. Yeah, there's a little bit of retribution physically, intimidation, those things, but it's just not the way it used to be."