It didn't last long. But it was intense while it lasted, and a little eye-opening given the combatants.
And Jeff Skinner and Pat Dwyer quickly apologized to each other after it was over.
Late in the Canes' practice today at Raleigh Center Ice, the players were split into twosomes for a "battle drill." Skinner and Dwyer were fighting for the puck in front of the net, trading pushes and shoves, when things escalated into a glove-pawing skirmish between the two forwards.
Teammates jumped in quickly -- Brandon Sutter the first to arrive -- to separate Skinner and Dwyer, who were trying to land a few punches. Order was restored and Skinner stayed on the ice well after practice ended. He then came into the locker room and immediately sought out Dwyer to shake hands.
"It's not because I don't like him," Skinner said. "Everything's all right. It's just a tough drill there at the end. It's not something you want to do every practice but it happens every once in a while. You don't look for it but sometimes it happens.
"I maybe could have reacted a little differently but he's a competitive guy."
"It's going to happen in practices like that. Stuff like that happens," Dwyer said. "It shows guys care and are battling. Emotions get away from guys and we've already talked about it and there's nothing to it, really."
Dwyer and Skinner both said the dust-up showed that the Canes, while last in the NHL East, still believe good things can happen with 25 games left. This is not a team, they said, counting down the days until the end of the season.
"Guys care. It shows no one is going through the motions and collecting paychecks," Dwyer said. "Hopefully we can carry this into tomorrow's practice and it can go on from there. No one here is ready to count us out."
Added Skinner, "Guys are working hard in practice, showing they care."
Several players were off the ice today for a "maintenance day" -- Eric Staal, Cam Ward, Bryan Allen, Chad LaRose, Tim Gleason. Forward Drayson Bowman, recalled Tuesday from the Charlotte Checkers (AHL), was not at practice. Canes coach Kirk Muller said Bowman's grandather had died.
Those who missed practice today missed the "show" at the end but will be sure to get a "blow-by-blow account" from the others, which should be interesting.
"Things like that happen," Muller said. "It shows there's a competitive level going on with guys and that's what we're trying to create here."