On Feb. 26, 2004, Flyers’ leading scorer Mark Recchi got his lip busted and stitched from a two-handed swinging stick to the kisser by Ottawa Senators’ forward, Martin Havlat. The right-wing Havlat would receive a two-game suspension for his cowardly act; while Recchi, his teammates, and coaches awaited their next meeting for retaliation.
`He’s a reckless player and someday someone is going to make him eat his lunch,” said Flyers’ head coach at the time, Ken Hitchcock. “He’s going to get it someday, and it’s going to be harsh.
This is something in my opinion that the players should take care of.” added Hitchcock.
“He two-handed me across the face.” said the fat-lipped Recchi after the game. “It might not come from our team, it might come from some other team, but he will because he’s cheap and he does stupid stuff like that. He’d better learn to protect himself.”
On Mar. 5, 2004 – one-week after the Halvat cheapshot – Philly hosted Ottawa as the two top-teams in their respective Divisions’ squared-off. Nonetheless, the bad blood carried over and escalated into an NHL-record-breaking 419 penalty minutes in the 60-minute contest. Five separate brawls took place – goaltenders included – and the ejections of 16 different players occurred within the final two-minutes of the third period. (The old NHL record for most penalty minutes in a game was 406, set by the Minnesota North Stars and Boston Bruins in 1981)