Noel Acciari talks about his fight with Matt Martin, how it came about and how great Martin was for the way he handled it

Published March 23, 2023 at 11:17

On Tuesday night, the Leafs were absolutely throttled by the New York Islanders, dropping a 7-2 decision to the Isles, who are dead set on qualifying for the playoffs and who are currently holding down the 1st Wild Card spot in the East.

One of the storylines from the game was the Noel Acciari hit on Brock Nelson in the first period - a hit that took Nelson out of the game. For much of the game, Acciari was not forced to answer the bell for the questionable hit, but in the late stages of the game, Matt Martin laid out the challenge and Acciari accepted. The fight was brief, with Martin landing just one shot behind Acciari's ear before Acciari dropped to a knee. Martin threw a couple of light shots while Acciari was on his knee, but then paused to see if Acciari would get up, in true honourable fashion.

Following practice yesterday, Acciari was asked about his brief tilt with Martin. The veteran forward gave Martin a tip of his hat with his response and greatly appreciated Martin going easy on him, especially after suffering a head injury of his own just one week ago against the Hurricanes after being clipped up high by Jesse Puljujarvi.

"[Martin] was asking me if I wanted to answer [for the Nelson hit] & in the back of my head I'm literally just coming back from a little head thing so I wanted to be careful. But, at the same time, I wanted to answer. It's part of the game. He's the best at what he does and I respect his game. Class act for what he did." - Acciari on how Martin handled the retribution for Acciari's hit on Brock Nelson

Hockey has always had a "code" and while some would like to do away with fighting in the game, this is a perfect example of what that code is and why it's important. If Martin really wanted to exact revenge and take his pound of flesh, he could have absolutely taken Acciari out to the wood shed, but he didn't. He used the brief fight as an opportunity to "settle the score", but at the same time, respected Acciari enough not to inflict more damage than was absolutely necessary, especially in light of Acciari's recent injury.

Kudos to Martin for being a stand-up guy about it and kudos to Acciari for recognizing what his responsibility was in that moment and for publicly acknowledging what Martin did for him in the tussle. Two absolute class acts.

March 23   |   270 answers
Noel Acciari talks about his fight with Matt Martin, how it came about and how great Martin was for the way he handled it

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