Red Wings Blame Hughes For 'Cheap' Hit That Leads To More

The Wings called it "cheap" and "dirty." Hughes felt otherwise. 

Will Burchfield
February 26, 2020 - 8:43 am
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© Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

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It started with a knee-on-knee hit by Jack Hughes on Robby Fabbri, with about 10 minutes left in New Jersey's 4-1 win over Detroit Tueday night. In Hughes' mind, it started before that. 

The Red Wings had roughed up the No. 1 overall pick throughout the night, so Hughes wanted to return the favor. 

"Tonight probably took a few more hits than I should," Hughes said. "When you take hit after hit, you kind of want to do something yourself."

The hit that seemed to push him over the edge came from Fabbri, who knocked Hughes off the puck in the offensive zone. Hughes plowed into Fabbri a few seconds later, sending the Red Wings forward limping to the locker room. Fabbri, who has a long history of knee injuries, would not return. 

The Red Wings called it "cheap" and "dirty." Hughes felt otherwise. 

"Just hit him. Nothing anything really other than that," he said. "I think they thought it was a dirty hit. I don’t think he returned, so they were kind of coming after me. But that’s the way it goes."

Hughes was assessed a minor penalty for tripping. Jeff Blashill, who coached Hughes on Team USA at the World Championships last summer, said it should have been a major. 

"It looked intentional to me," said Blashill. "It's unfortunate."

The Wings seemed intent on sending a message once Hughes returned. Tyler Bertuzzi caught up to him behind the Devils' net with under a minute to go and ran him into the boards. It was a clean hit. But Devils enforcer John Hayden took exception and cross-checked Bertuzzi in the chops, knocking him to the ice. 

A fracas ensued in the corner, with Bertuzzi and P.K. Subban exchanging words and needing to be separated from a fight. Subban threw his glove at Bertuzzi, prompting Bertuzzi to do the same as they were being dragged off the ice by the refs. 

Hayden, who got a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct, will likely be hearing from the NHL Department of Player Safety. 

But Hughes was the one to blame, according to the Red Wings. 

"It starts with a pretty cheap check," said Dylan Larkin, who also played with Hughes at the World Championships. "Clearly stuck his leg out, knee on knee. We didn’t like that. That’s all I’m going to say."

"I thought it started with a dirty hit," said Justin Abdelkader. "We’re trying to protect our players there. I didn’t think it was a great hit, obviously Fabs with his history of injuries too." 

Larkin said Fabbri, who's torn his ACL twice in his young career, should be "okay." Blashill had no further update. Hughes, who notched an assist on the Devils' third goal, may be getting a call from Player Safety himself. 

It was all part of another tough night for the Wings, who were outplayed by a team that's had their number all year. The Devils, in last place in the Metro Division, swept the season series, outscoring Detroit 13-3 in the process. 

That, more than the chippy ending to the game, is what irked Blashill. 

"I’m more disappointed in the fact that we put ourselves in a spot where we had to take crap, to be honest with you," he said. "They outplayed us and they were winning, so we had to take it. That’s the part that sucks."