After the Nashville Predators left the Centennial Sportsplex ice following their Tuesday afternoon practice, the players filed into the locker room to change out of their gear.
Soon after he unlaced his skates, Predators defenseman Kevin Klein looked up to see several reporters and television cameras waiting to speak with him. Despite being a great quote, Klein is not often one of the high-demand players when it comes to media availability time.
But a late second period fight with Antoine Roussel of the Dallas Stars in Monday night’s game had a scrum of people surrounding his stall in the locker room.
During Klein’s time with the media, his teammates made sure to lob some good-natured quips in his direction related to his popularity.
Klein and Roussel had quite and eventful tilt, trading punches in a bout that lasted longer than most NHL fights. Klein landed more punches, even knocking Roussel’s helmet off with one. He also landed a couple of uppercuts early on in the battle.
Hockeyfights.com’s page on the fight can be found here.
Prior to this season, Klein had a total of 13 penalty minutes in 113 games played over the course of the last two seasons. Thanks to three fighting majors this season, Klein already has 21 PIMS in 47 games played in 2013-14.
Asked if he was feeling any after effects from Monday night’s fight, Klein said that he was fine.
“My hand is a little sore, but it will heal," he said.
Soft spoken and affable off the ice, Klein appears much the same way on it, that is until the gloves drop anyway. A steady and reliable fixture on the team’s second defensive unit and a go-to penalty killer, Klein is not thought of as one of Nashville’s tough guys, but that could be changing.
“I’m normally fairly calm,” he said. “It’s fun to get fired up every once and a while. I try to stay composed back there for the most part, but if you play physical, stuff is going to happen.”
Whether or not fighting belongs in the game of hockey is a debate that has gained momentum in recent years. They players are overwhelmingly in favor of the effect they believe a fight can bring to the game.
“Holy man, that was one of the best fights I think we’ve seen in a long time,” Predators captain Shea Weber said following Monday’s game. “Guys were loving it. Obviously when guys step up for themselves and teammates, it pumps everybody up.”
Klein’s coach thinks that some publicity of his fights may have some lasting effects down the road if opponents are paying attention.
“Kevin Klein doesn’t fight very often, but I have been here his whole career and when he does fight, I can’t remember him not winning a fight,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said Monday. “I think if you could find a balance where he wasn’t as laid back on the ice, and have a little bit of that edge, he would find that he would have a lot more room, a lot more time with the puck. People wouldn’t be whacking at the goalies and stuff. I hope its played on NHL Tonight and all those other places so that they can take notes.”