File this under sentences you never thought you’d read: Winnipeg Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers fought Anaheim Ducks centreman Ryan Getzlaf on Sunday night, and lived to tell the tale — and even joke about it.
“Out of character? This is my third (career) fight now,” Ehlers said with a smile after the game, a 3-2 Jets win. “I’m a fighter.”
Ehlers, whose fighting resume includes a bout against Colton Sissons in 2018 and versus Tyson Barrie in 2016, took exception to Getzlaf’s cross-check on him in the first period and challenged the heavyweight to what was certainly a bit of a lop-sided fight.
The 6-foot, 172-pound Dane said he could hear his teammates’ attempts from the bench to dissuade him from dropping his mitts.
“Right before it all happened, everyone was yelling ‘No!’ from the bench,” he said. And while it didn’t take long for his 6-foot-3, 228-pound opponent to take him down, Ehlers added the he “felt good” after the fight.
The boys did, indeed, love it.
Jets captain Blake Wheeler had a big smile on his face when talking about his teammate’s fighting spirit.
“He’s a sick man. He really is,” Wheeler said. “He was going after Jamie Benn a couple nights ago and now Getzy. So we’re going to have to talk to him a little bit about that. But I mean, outside of that, what can you say? I mean, what a hell of a job by a little guy. That dude’s got some fire in his belly for sure. That was pretty awesome.”
Ehlers has been on fire lately, having also started a scuffle with Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn last Tuesday night. The two didn’t actually drop the gloves, but landed themselves in the penalty box with a slashing penalty each.
Head coach Paul Maurice also had a little fun when talking about the fight after the game.
“I sent him out. First time in 22 years,” he joked.
“No, I don’t know how it happened but I will tell you the Nik Ehlers is a little tougher than people might think,” he continued, later adding that the winger’s “got a pretty good upper cut.”
“He’s 2-0,” Maurice said, tallying his player’s fight card numbers, “and if we give that one a draw he’s 2-0-1.”
Like his players, Maurice was in good spirits after the win but you can bet he’ll be advising his team to keep their gloves on from now on to avoid injuries.
“That was foolish, wasn’t it?,” he said of Ehlers’ actions Sunday. “But god bless him, don’t do it again — ever.”