It's one of the classic old-time 'codes' in hockey - that enforcers fight the enforcers. The enforcers protect the skill players. The enforcers don't usually get mixed up with the skill guys.
And yet on Sunday night in Toronto, Buffalo Sabres tough guy John Scott and Maple Leafs star forward Phil Kessel hooked up in a battle of words that sparked a fight between them - and a line brawl around them. Scott dropped his gloves and Kessel retreated while swinging his stick at the same time.
When it was all said and done, Scott received an instigator penalty along with five minutes for fighting, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct. Kessel received a match penalty for attempt to injure.
Most would not support Kessel's use of his stick as a weapon, but did Scott break the fighting code in the first place? Kessel is eight inches shorter and 68 pounds lighter than Scott, who is listed at 6'8" and 270 lbs.
"It was pretty stupid, right? He said he was going to jump me...I just backed up," explained Kessel afterwards. "What are you going to do? He's a big boy, so if he's coming after me, what am I going to do, right?"
Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle had noted the escalation in tempers as moments earlier, Toronto's 6'5", 217 lb. Jamie Devane knocked 6'0", 185 lb. forward Corey Tropp of the Sabres unconscious.
"I tried to defuse the situation by putting Kessel, Bozak, and Ashton on the ice (against Scott's line), feeling that there was no threat to something and more carrying on, but obviously I was wrong," said Carlyle.
In the shadow of the Kessel-Scott battle, nearly every player on the ice was tagged with either fighting majors or misconducts - and even goalies Jonathan Bernier and Ryan Miller dropped the gloves.
Which led to coach Carlyle being asked about the rare sight of the goaltenders mixing it up.
"Emotions run high in those situations," he said. "It's hard to pull somebody back...I don't know...if one guy initiates it it's that code of honour, it's happened before."
Hockey's code was followed again on Sunday night, but did Buffalo's John Scott break it by going after Toronto's star forward?
It's Your! Call.