The Philadelphia Flyers’ rugged forward hopped on the ice at Madison Square Garden seconds after the opening faceoff Wednesday night and accepted an invitation to fight New York enforcer Colton Orr.
Only 21 seconds elapsed when the gloves came off and the punches flew. Orr caught Fedoruk with a hard right against his reconstructed left cheek and sent him down and out on his back.
Officials immediately summoned the Flyers’ medical personnel to the ice, and a stretcher was brought out moments later. Fedoruk appeared to blink and talk, and he made an OK gesture with his fingers as he was strapped to a backboard, and a brace was affixed to his head.
“I’m a little sore but I’m fine right now,” Fedoruk said in a statement after the Rangers’ 5-0 victory. “I remember everything. I looked at him and he said, ‘Let’s go.’ He knocked me out on the way down. When I got off the ice, I woke up. I guess I got my bell rung.”
Fedoruk was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital for observation and kept overnight.
“Todd is doing fine,” Rangers neurologist Claude Macaluso said in a statement. “He is awake. He is having some problems with short-term memory, but other than that he is great. There are no neurological problems at all.
“We scanned him basically from the top of his head right down to the bottom of his neck. There are no fractures, (his) brain looks fine. He is going to be fine.”
This is nothing new for Fedoruk, known for his fists instead of finesse.
Fedoruk missed 18 games earlier this season after he underwent major facial surgery following an Oct. 27 fight with Minnesota’s Derek Boogaard. Fedoruk, who was with Anaheim at the time, was traded to Philadelphia on Nov. 13.
He returned to the lineup on Dec. 2 and has had five fights since removing his face shield before the all-star break in February.
“The surgeries he’s had, he’s got basically a titanium face,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. “He’s been a little tentative in his fighting when he has fought. It’s got to take time, I think.”
Fedoruk also underwent surgery in November 2003 after a fight with Eric Cairns of the New York Islanders left him with a broken face. Surgeons implanted a small, permanent titanium plate in Fedoruk’s upper cheekbone to stabilize the orbital structure.
“Guys break their faces all the time,” Fedoruk joked then. “The stuff they put in there is only going to make it stronger. It’s ready to take another punch. It’s not going to affect me at all.”
One year later during the NHL lockout, the man known as “Fridge” sustained a broken nose and an orbital sinus fracture that required surgery after he was hit in the face by a puck while he was on the bench for the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL.
The bad blood that has existed between the Flyers and Rangers since Philadelphia joined the NHL in 1967 was stirred last month at Madison Square Garden. Orr flattened Fedoruk in response to Philadelphia’s rough play on that day when Orr was left out of the lineup.
Rangers coach Tom Renney regretted that move but rectified the situation. Orr was in the starting lineup and quickly made his presence known in the rematch.
He took on Fedoruk in the Philadelphia zone and decked the hard-hitting forward with a shot flush to the left cheek – sending him down on his back. Fedoruk was strapped to a board, and had his head immobilized before being wheeled off.
“It was just a fair fight,” Orr said. “He is going to hit you, so you want to hit him. The same thing could’ve happened to me. It is part of the game.”
Renney started the line centered by Blair Betts and flanked by Orr and Ryan Hollweg that was so effective Monday in shutting down Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, the NHL’s scoring leader, in the Rangers’ 2-1 victory. In response to Orr’s early presence, Fedoruk came onto the ice.
“I wanted to get a good start,” Renney said. “I wanted to get a forecheck, I wanted to make sure that we gave them nothing. If you look back on what they did against our last opponent, Sidney Crosby, you can sort of understand why I start that line.
“I’m not sure why they made the change to put Fedoruk out there. There’s 60 minutes to do that if that’s what you’re after.”
Fedoruk and teammate Ben Eager combined for four roughing penalties and a misconduct in the first period of Philadelphia’s 5-3 victory last month, a game best remembered for the violent accidental collision between New York’s Brendan Shanahan and Flyers forward Mike Knuble.
Shortly after Orr emerged from the penalty box following his bout with Fedoruk, he fought Eager. Orr took a punch that sent him to his knees, but wasn’t injured. After returning to the bench following a second-period interference penalty, Renney gave him pats on his shoulders and back.
“We admitted it was a mistake the last time we played them that Colton wasn’t in the lineup,” Shanahan said after his first game back from a concussion. “For a guy that is known as a fighter, he plays a very intelligent and sound defensive game.”