TAMPA, Fla. | Steve Downie has a reputation around the NHL. He likes to agitate and fight. He was suspended 20 games for a dirty hit on Dean McAmmond in the 2007 preseason that was at the time the fourth-longest ban in NHL history.
So when Downie dropped the gloves with Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner on Jan. 13, it’s understandable that a lot of people weren’t pleased. It was Alzner’s first NHL fight.
“I’d be upset if one of our non-fighters got into a fight too. But to Alzy’s credit he stepped up and fought and did well,” Downie said Tuesday. “No hard feelings, he’s a great guy and that’s it.”
Downie and Alzner knew each other from Canada’s world junior team, where they won a gold medal together. And while the soft- and well-spoken Alzner didn’t criticize Downie much for the recent fight, he did admit he had no choice but to do something because the Lightning winger was holding his stick.
That last meeting between the Caps and Lightning got chippy, too, with a handful of post-whistle scrums breaking out. Washington on Monday signed enforcer Joel Rechlicz off the Hershey Bears roster and called him up.
Asked if he thought that was a message to him, Downie wasn’t sure.
“I don’t think so. I don’t know. I played against [Dale] Hunter’s team in junior and he always had guys like that on his team,” Downie said. “He likes to have guys like that, character guys. I’m sure he’s there for a reason.”
As for the question of whether he would fight if Rechlicz asked, Downie did not want to get into a discussion that could get him into trouble with the NHL concerned a “pre-meditated fight.”
“I don’t know. We’ll see,” he said.