For fans of the National Hockey League it probably feels like a lifetime ago that forward Mike Hoffman was traded by the Ottawa Senators but for the man himself the memories of what went down during and prior to that trade may still be very fresh in his mind.
Hoffman was involved in a major scandal during his time as an Ottawa Senator, one that involved defenseman Erik Karlsson, the organization's star player, and one that many feel contributed to the split that eventually occurred between that player and the team. Hoffman, through no fault of his own, had his name dragged through the papers after it was alleged that Monika Caryk, Hoffman's fiancee, had been cyberstalking Melinda Karlsson, the wife of the aforementioned Erik Karlsson.
The scandal took on a life of its own once the media got a hold of it and there is little doubt that all parties involved in this story were left more than a little embarrassed by the time it was all said and done. One of the more bizarre parts of this story are that there was never any resolution to the issue, at least not publicly, although when the Senators eventually parted ways with both players it seemingly ended the drama. Both players were shipped off to opposite corners of the United States with Karlsson landing in San Jose and Hoffman landing in Florida and on Sunday night they met one another for the very first time since the scandal went down.
As I stated we still do not know what really happened between the 4 parties involved in this story but when Hoffman and Karlsson found themselves on the ice together on Sunday it was obvious that Hoffman had something to share. The Panthers forward stopped short of really going after Karlsson but he took a firm grip on his jersey and had a few choice words for the Sharks defenseman after a stoppage in play. To his credit Karlsson did not appear to be the least bit phased by the incident and in fact could be seen laughing away on the Sharks bench after he returned from the brief altercation with Hoffman.
Karlsson may have been laughing outwardly but as it turns out he had just been challenged to answer the call, at least according to Hoffman, but had refused to do so for whatever reason. Speaking to the media after the game Hoffman, who has never had a fight during his entire career in the National Hockey League, told reporters that he attempted to fight Karlsson. According to Hoffman however the San Jose Sharks defenseman was unwilling to step up to the challenge in spite Hoffman insisting that they drop the gloves.
“I have been thinking about this game for a long time,” Hoffman said as per The Athletic. “It is a part of hockey.”
“He actually played tonight and I asked if he wanted to go and obviously he did not,” Hoffman said afterward. “I chased him around for an entire shift, kept asking and asking. He wouldn’t. He kept saying ‘I am not fighting you.’”
Hoffman had missed his chance at a throwdown with Karlsson on the two previous occasions the teams collided due to the fact that Karlsson was out with an injury at that time. He will get another chance to throw down with his former teammate on the 17th of February in 2020 when the Sharks and Panthers face each other again, but will Karlsson show any willingness to drop the gloves? I must admit given what allegedly happened to his wife it strikes me as odd that Karlsson is not more willing to engage with Hoffman on the ice.