Paul Byron's Agent Sounds off on NHL Department of Player Safety

It was reported earlier today that Paul Byron will not join the Canadiens in Columbus for Thursday's game against the Blue Jackets due to an injury sustained during a fight with Mackenzie Weegar last night. Paul Byron's agent, JP Barry, had quite a bit to say regarding that fight, and the general "code" in the NHL as a whole.


To give some background information, Paul Byron delivered a check to the head of Mackenzie Weegar on January 15th, 2019, during a 5-1 win against the Panthers.

Weegar was taken out of the game due to concussion protocol, and was held out for some additional time after being diagnosed with a concussion.

Byron was initially given a 2-minute charging penalty, but was suspended the next day for 3 games. He typed up a post saying he agreed with the decision, that he did not intend to injure Weegar, and that he sincerely apologised for the hit.

Fast forward to last night's game, the first time the Byron and Weegar played each other since the hit. Mere seconds into the game, Weegar challenged Byron to a fight, and Byron agreed. It didn't take long for the much larger Weegar to take Byron down, and Byron needed help from the official to skate to the Canadiens locker room.

After seeing this all unfold, JP Barry was interviewed by Pierre LeBrun regarding the hit, and he did not mince words.

"This wasn't a hockey fight."
"Paul knew he had to deal with it then or likely later."
"Paul probably gives up five inches and fifty pounds to a very tough player."
(Weegar is 3 inches and 37 pounds bigger than Byron, according to hockeydb.com)
"Player safety already gave Paul three games for an improper check to the head and now the 'code' gets to give him several more? In the real world of justice there is protection for that, it's called the rule against double-jeopardy."
"I truly believe this exact situation is Exhibit-A for re-examining our current rules for fighting. If the fight is patently retribution for something that happened long before this game was ever played, how is that allowed to occur without being addressed?"

While he raises an interesting point in comparing this situation to the legal rule on double-jeopardy, it could be argued that Byron never had to fight, and he had the choice to just skate away. As to whether or not Weegar would have targeted Byron later on had he chosen not to fight him is anyone's guess.

All in all, this is a situation where JP Barry was sticking up for his client, and he can't be faulted for that.

If you would like to read the full article published by The Athletic, click here.

Do you think the unwritten "code" on fighting needs to be changed? Comment below.

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