Sunday, January 26, 2014
I was recently asked what my favorite fight of all time is. And while I was huge Stephen Peat fan, his fight with P.J. Stock is slightly overrated. Sure, it was a helluva scrap by two very tough guys. But we've seem more punches landed in a fight (see Mirasty -vs- Yablonski) and both guys walked away with no serious injuries, which is exactly what you want to see (when not judging these things). And, for the record, I have Peat edging out Stock in that fight. Stock's face show who landed the better punches. He had a nice mouse on his way to the sin bin.
The best fight for me was #2 on this list - Kyle Freadrich -vs- Ryan Vandenbussche. Freadrich's two front teeth were knocked out in the middle of the fight. They're hard to see in the video. But they go wizzing over Vincent Lecavalier's right shoulder. You can see him dodge them then continue to watch the fight.
Talk about damage! Both men went to the hospital. Both were concussed. Freadrich lost his teeth and suffered a broken nose. Vandenbussche's eye was swollen shut and he had to have surgery on his hand as he had a gash to the bone from knocking out Freadrich's teeth.
While I want to say it's because of a decline in the fights this year, that apparently isn't completely accurate. According to hockeyfights.com, we're currently on the same pace as we were last year. And, really, the numbers haven't drastically increased or decreased in some time.
|% of Games|
|# of players|
What's unfortunate, however, is that the percentage of games with fights has steadily declined. This year, when you tune into a game, you have a 1 in 3 shot at seeing a fight.
The number of players fighting continues to decrease as well. And while the anti-fighting crowd would tell you fighting has nothing to do with toughness, I think most of us would agree there is a strong correlation. Tough players tend to drop the gloves every once in a while. So I think it's safe to say lineups are getting softer and softer.
Ultimately, this leads to boring, lackluster games. Fights occur (most times) when emotions boil over. But with softer lineups, the game are bound to lack the enthusiasm necessary to turn into a fight.
This might please some. But scoring, passing, and skating just don't cut it for many meat eating North Americans.
Monday, October 31, 2011
The late 80s gave us a multidimensional game, full of both individual displays of scoring feats and enforcers who were actually allowed to enforce the game in the moment. Was the correlation a simple coincidence? Or did opposing players know that if they touched Wayne, Marty was coming for them? Or if Steve was touched, Bob wasn't going to be far behind? Don't even look at Brett cross-eyed... the Twister was watching your every move.
Yeah, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. The NHL was expanded from 21 to 30 teams between 90-91 and 00-01. So most would say that the talent pool has thinned out. Others might say that during the same time, and even more since 00-01, NHL teams have expanded their scouting reach ten-fold. These days, we have players coming from countries you never heard of in the early 90s.
What else has changed? When scoring dropped off in 03-04, with the likes of Martin St. Louis leading the league in scoring, the NHL thought it was necessary to "tinker" with the rules during the lockout. All that "clutching and grabbing" was slowing the game down... you remember? What better way to spend all that time than to "improve" the game by tossing in a few more rules that were designed to increase power plays and scoring. And an increase in scoring, of course, meant an increase in fans. Fans love goals, nothing more! At the same time, the NHL thought it would be wise to curb fighting a bit, (e.g. instigators in the final five minutes of a game brought suspensions for the player and coach). Excessive fighting was thought to be a hindrance from the casual fan making that leap onto the frozen ponds of hockey.
Guess what? It worked! As the clutching grabbing slowed, the speed of the game increased... and so did scoring. Thankfully for the NHL, instead of that anti-charismatic St. Louis, the superstar pool filled with marketable stars like Ovechkin and Crosby. Phew! [And now stop for a second and picture the league without those two guys... where would the NHL be?]
With the exception of Sid sidelined with a bruised prune, all is looking up, right? You would think. But some don't. Let me ask a few questions and then answer them to sound smart...
For a game that's on the up and up, where's that big television contract? Instead of being highlighted in primetime on ESPN, the NHL can only muster a television contract with an "Outdoor Sports Channel" which, let's face it, is best known for deer hunting, fishing, and monster trucks. The game has improved, surely the NHL should be back on ESPN; yes?
What about the whole "hits to the head" issue? Has the NHL made any "headway" on this front as of yet? Has Shanahan's increase in suspensions deterred head shots? Is it just me or does anyone else feel some of these head shots are borderline and simply can't be deterred? Has anybody else raced around a rink at blazing speeds and accidentally run into someone? It's going to happen. A faster game = more scoring. And a faster game = more violent, uncontrollable collisions.
How about the role of the enforcer which so many Hall of Fame players benefited from and so many fans grew to respect and endear? They’ve all but been phased out. Who needs them in this fast-paced, high-scoring, “safe” game? Unlike when "Shanny" was a young buck, who’d immediately have your back should an “Ulf Samuelson” stick a knee out on you, these days, he'll dissect the play from his executive leather chair and discipline you a few days later.
So you best pull up on that hit Alex Ovechkin. No more being a bull on the ice... a tamed pony will do. Should somebody stick a knee out on Mike Green, we'll get em on the power play, right Boudreau (he said it, not me)? That'll deter em next time. By the way, how's that "tough guy" Jay Beagle doing these days? Nice job hanging him out to dry Bruce.
It's working, right?
And how are those rivalries going that we all loved so much, which made so many non-hockey fans tune in because they knew they were going to see an emotional, physical game? The Battle of Alberta; long gone. The Wings/Avs rivalry; not since Shanahan was tackling Patrick Roy at center ice. The Isles vs Pens? The NHL nixed that 15 minutes after that "travesty" (according to Mario) of a game ended. Indeed, a look into the stands at all those paying fans displayed faces of shock and horror. Many were running to get away from it. [It's getting pretty thick in here, isn't it?]
Let's face it folks, for many of us, the NHL isn't worth watching until the 82 regular season games have ended and the playoffs have started. Sure, there's barely any fighting in the playoffs. But when teams face off up to seven times in a series, there's some animosity (assuming the whistles are tucked away), the passion and hitting pick up, and much like Olympic hockey, teams are playing for something meaningful. Rivalries are the Caps vs Pens these days. Two teams which "get up" to play one another. There's no real animosity between the teams. How can a team have animosity toward another in today's NHL? The mere thought of animosity yields a pre-game phone call from the league.
Not that I anticipate a phone call will be needed this year, but I can imagine Shanny's first call.... "Uh, hey Claude. Things got rough between your team and the Habs last game. There were two fights and one of them came off a draw, meaning it was premeditated by our standards. Lucic threw a big hit on Moen and gave him the evil eye as they were doing to the bench. It was a travesty. And I don't want to see it happen again tonight. Please consider keeping Thornton out of the lineup. I'm calling Claude now to tell him to keep that monster Hal Gill out as well."
Hey, you might like all of this; and to each their own. If you enjoy a faster game that is full of specialists, (e.g. shootout, faceoff, penalty kill) has less hitting, more agitating and diving, and less fighting, this is the game for you.
To me, and I certainly know there are other, let's say, "traditionalists" out there, this game has become watered down... one dimensional. What was once a wonderful, passion-filled game which was played out on the ice is now a game that is as much controlled off the ice by a set of minds that thinks more rules equals better hockey.
But it's working for the fence sitters, right? They're hopping over in droves, eh?
Nah. Not me. I'm the guy that once forked over his money to NHL Center Ice without hesitation. These days, I can get the scoring highlights on “Youtube” and the fights on one of the ten different hockey fight websites out there. Truly, why would one pay to watch a fairly one-dimensional game?
By the way, isn't it crazy how there's so many hockey fight websites out there but no websites devoted to historically recording and voting on the best goals or assists? I don't know... maybe it's just me... the phased out traditionalist that isn't thirst for Kool-Aid.
Monday, April 25, 2011
It's pretty simple. If the Sabres win, they will meet the Capitals in round two. And while Washington is 3-0-1 against the defensive-minded Sabres this year, think twice before putting your Friday paycheck on the red, white, and blue when you make your hockey picks at BetUS this week. Reasons?
The Sabres are hot. Having won 8 of their last 10 games, and taking the #2 seeded Flyers to the brink of defeat, you would be hard pressed to find a hotter team right now.
Ryan Miller is, well, he's pretty darned hot too. And all I need say about the Caps whoas when running up against a hot goaltender is Jaroslav Halak. Halak stymied a then potent Caps' offense. And having transformed into a more balanced team, it won't be nearly as difficult for Miller to get hot and do the same. Miller's first round playoff GAA isn't going to knock your socks off, but the nettie is dialing at a .925 save percentage against a Flyers' offense that led the Eastern Conference is regular season goals. Oh, and ahem, he's shut the Flyers out twice.
Whoever the Caps face in round 2, the mucking, grinding, and screening of their next nemesis netminder will be the key to every game. The Caps have been known to go complacent here and there (dare I mention their record in the last 7 series when up 3 game to 1?). So it will be up the red-faced Bruce Boudreau, and the Caps' version of Stevie Y (Jason Arnott) to keep the "young guns" heads glued on straight. It might help if Nicholas Backstrom showed up too.
For a look at more second round possible, see Katie Carrera's article at the Washington Post today.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Forget the fact that accidental concussions are leading to most concussions in the game, we want these accidents to stop. And we're bringing our signs to show our displeasure about the accidents that occur in this game of hockey, the game that takes place at breakneck speeds.
As a matter of fact, next step NASCAR! Them there accidents have to go too.
So Bruce Boudreau said if we don't like it don't come. We won't be coming inside Bruce... not until game time starts. We still love the game. So we'll all still be wearing our Canadians' jerseys. We'll even buy hotdogs (wait yuppies don't like meat --- make that tofu dogs) and lemonades. We'll cheer on our yuppie team led by our yuppie coach. Nope, no need for toughness on this team. Teams (like the Bruins) won't try to outmuscle us or anything like that. Nah.
Did anyone see our 1,500 signatures we brought in on our online petition? Never mind that 1,500 signatures is a few hundred short of the petition on passing gas in Montreal taxi cabs (those cabbie drivers know how to organize man), we're bringing signs tonight baby! Eat that!
And just so everyone know, this will be a peaceful protest... with signs. Oh yes, we're crossing our fingers and toes that Damien Cox shows up and dramatizes the whole event.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
“After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline. This hit resulted from a play that evolved and then happened very quickly -- with both players skating in the same direction and with Chara attempting to angle his opponent into the boards. I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous."
Eh, Mike, look no further than this picture from the Boston Globe for evidence...
More from Mike Murphy:
“This was a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface. In reviewing this play, I also took into consideration that Chara has not been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career."
Of course not, why would a star player get suspended for, um, something like what you see in the video below... you know, when Chara worked over a few referees to get at, um, Max Pacioretty? A mere month ago Chara was trying to get at Pacioretty. Now the guy is in the hospital with a sever concussion and broken neck.
How's that for history?
Nice job NHL. If this were Trevor Gillies, he's be playing pickup hockey on the local tennis courts right now.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Matt Cooke --- Widely regarded as the dirtiest player in the NHL, "Cookie" was recently suspended for his upteenth cheap hit of his career, this one against Blue Jacket Fedor Tyutin. That came after his knee to knee hit on Capitals' superstar, Alexander Ovechkin. At that time, the Caps had the game in hand mind you. So Cooke's knee was no accident. Oh wait, the referees called it "tripping." For a few more of Cookie's cheapies, including possibly ending Marc Savard's career, you can watch here.
Mario? Where are you? Nothing to say?
Tim Wallace --- Called up to play against the Capitals following Dave Steckel's clearly accidental elbow to the head of Pens' superstar Sidney Crosby. Wallace averages five fights a year. Steckel a whopping one. So what happens when Wallace gets the call to play his first regular season game in two years? You guessed it. He fights Dave Steckel.
Mario? Where are you? Nothing to say?
The Islanders respond to a blind side hit to Blake Comeau that left him concussed (no call on the play by the way) by pounding the Pens on the scoreboard and in the parking lot. Since the NHL protected Talbot, the Isles exacted their own justice.
Mario? Oh there you are! The owner that once called the NHL "a garbage league" has finally arrived. I guess we can all sit and listen attentively now that he is here.
Monday, February 15, 2010
It is abundantly clear that the Capitals are a soft bunch. And that extends well beyond the needed crease clearer. It's something I think has become public knowledge across the league. I'd actually argue that this happened in the Caps' playoff run last year. Skilled players, most noticeable Mike Green, were consistently run and took a beating. Green was noticeably slower and less productive as a result.
This year, the Caps went enforcer-less. George McPhee let Donald Brashear bolt for an obscene contract that Glenn Sather dished out in New York. It was a good move by McPhee as Brashear is now a 38 year old enforcer taking fourth line duties in Hartford, the Rangers' AHL team. Brashear's contract doesn't clear from the Rangers' cap either because of his age.
But while McPhee made a good decision to let Brashear go, so what of replacing him? The Caps, who have always carried a tough guy, have gone enforcer-less up to the Olympic break.
So is/was this a good or bad decision? Have the Caps' skilled players been targeted more or less this year compared to last?
It's not even close folks. Matt Bradley, the toughest Cap dressed on a consistent basis, has lost more blood and brain cells than a zombie victim. Mike Green has a giant bulls eye on his back. And AO fighting and getting run??? I recall Brashear saying last year that he would get suspended if any player ever touched AO.
Enough with my thoughts. On to some videos from this year... unfortunately I couldn't find em all. But these will do:
Matt Bradley badly bloodied:
Ovechkin knees Gleason and gets the worse of it:
Duco beats on a turtling Giroux:
Carcillo KOs Bradley:
12/7/09 - David Hale crushed Mike Green who lies on the ice holding his face – No Video
Koci boards Mike Green from behind then beats Erskine:
12/18/09 – Tanner Glass puts Laich into the player’s bench. Laich doesn’t know what’s going on afterward (Caps scored) – No Video
Ovechkin about to fight Downie?
Konopka beats down Dave Steckel
Colton Orr with a cheap shot on Mike Green then beats up Morrisson:
Mike Green with the cheapest elbow of the year on Frolik:
Same game, Kulikov knees Green:
Boychuk destroys Ovechkin:
Adams hits Ovechkin from behind:
Janssen destroys Bradley then beats up Sloan:
For information about Stephen’s career, here are a couple good resources:
Career Statistics - http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=28833
Fight Card - http://www.dropyourgloves.com/Players/Player.aspx?Player=3515
PC - I’ll try to keep these questions in chronological order starting with Stephen’s Red Deer days. You were picked in the 2nd Round, 32nd overall by the Mighty Ducks; that had to be a good feeling. Can you comment on if you were at the draft and if you thought you were going to go that high?
Peat - Central scouting had me rated to be drafted around that spot so I guess I had a bit of an idea I would get drafted around there. I did attend the draft; it was a good experience and stepping stone towards getting closer to becoming an NHL hockey player.
PC - You took on some big boys (e.g. Freadrich, Low, Yablonski, Godard, Fritz, Parker, Boogaard, Vandermeer), and did quite well for yourself, in the W. What was it like honing your skill against guys like that?
Peat - Having had the chance to fight all the players I fought throughout my junior career definitely helped me become a better fighter and little more prepared to fight in the pro level.
PC - Apparently you were stabbed in a bar while in juniors? Can you tell us about that and how it affected you?
Peat - Yes I was stabbed during a bar altercation. It didn’t really affect me personally but it did affect the way some people perceived me. Bottom line I will stick up for my friends no matter the place or time.
PC - Another poster wanted to know about your scrap with Rocky Thompson in the playoffs. There isn’t any information on that. And both of you guys threw em like lawnmowers!
Peat - Ya it was during a playoff game while I played for red deer. I remember we were losing 6 to 1 or something like that. It was time to stand up to them and I thought why not fight rocky. It was a toe to toe fight we both ended standing. I felt that was a good mark for me since I was only 16 and proved I could go with the tough guys.
PC - Were there any good stories from the W that you could share? Who was the most feared guy in the league?
Peat - There are numerous stories but the one that sticks out is during a game in prince albert I was hit by one of their players really cheaply by an elbow it had knocked me silly. While fights broke out and I got up, the ref grabbed me and put me in the box. They then put a couple of their players in the box too including the player who had elbowed me. While everyone was busy watching the other fights I was spraying myself down with cold water to gather my senses, once I felt good enough I flew out of my penalty box when they weren’t looking and jumped into theirs and beat the snot outta the guy who elbowed me and when done with him beat up his partner in there.
PC - Another poster wanted to know about your brother Mike? How’s he doing? There’s this story going around that you guys fought on the ice once? Care to share what happened?
Peat - My brother is doing great. We did fight a couple of times actually, in the same game too. We just wanted to see who was tougher on ice. It didn’t really prove anything cause I would give me the win on one and him the other.
PC - You only played a few games in Portland before coming into camp and promptly earning a spot with the Caps in 2001-02. Was there something (i.e. a need, you simply had a good camp, both?) that led to you getting called up?
Peat - I think I had a solid camp and good work ethic. Being a young player you have to work harder then everyone. Also I think my willingness to fight anyone helped.
PC - What was it like riding shotgun with Chris Simon?
Peat - Chris was an awesome guy. He really helped a lot in my adjustment to playing in the NHL.
PC - You were a buzz saw your first year with the Caps. Besides the P.J. Stock fight that everyone likes to talk about, do any others stand out in your mind?
Peat - For myself every fight stands out.
PC - What was it like fighting (and TKOing) Kevin Sawyer? Any revenge from the Ducks letting you go?
Peat - I definitely enjoyed that and yes there might have been a little something for me to prove.
PC - Did you feel bad KOing Jeff Odgers? His breathe-right strip was hanging from his nose when he got up!
Peat - I can’t say I felt bad since he challenged me.
PC - Do you remember what Ron Wilson told you when he tapped you on the shoulder to send you out against Stock? Who do YOU think won the P.J. Stock war? What about your next matchup at the Verizon Center?
Peat - I don’t recall Ron ever saying anything, he shouldn’t have too, I knew my roll. As for the war between me and him I will let other people decide that.
PC - Donald Brashear really gave you a tough time. Can you talk about what it was like fighting him?
Peat - Brashear is very strong and technical with his grabbing and pulling back and forth. I am more of a stand back and throw them style of fighter, but I still enjoyed fighting him because it made me start to work on my technical part of it.
PC - Dale Purinton isn’t the most respected of tough guys around the hockey fight community. He crosschecked you and got seven games. What were your thoughts on him as you fought (and beat) him a couple times?
Peat - I felt the cross check was outta line especially since I am a willing fighter. But I can’t knock him too much since I too have cross check players in the face. He also apologized later to me.
PC - Why did you smile after so many of your fights?
Peat - There’s no better feeling then hearing the fans go crazy over a good fight. All the reason to smile.
PC - I used to get word that Bruce Cassidy (I believe) wanted you to cut weight coming into Caps’ camps, making you a bit smaller than you might have wanted to have been when taking on some of the bigger heavies. Also heard that you had some issues with reflux that made you lose some weight. Any truth to either? Do you think you could have fared better against some of the top heavies if you could have bulked up?
Peat - I think Bruce had good intentions for me by requesting that I slim down, but it doesn’t change that the heavy’s of the league were still gonna want to fight me. It was frustrating.
PC - During the lockout, you signed up to play with the Danbury Trashers, a team that had no shortage of tough guys. You fought in your first game, but nothing in the previous six. Did anyone want to try you on? Or were just working on your game and staying in shape? What did you think of playing along side guys like John “Nasty” Mirasty, Frank Bialowas, and Brad Wingfied? Wow, what a team!
Peat - I was more concerned of getting injured and then the NHL resumes playing and I wouldn’t have been able to play if injured. It was a fun experience, actually brad wingfield and I are really good friends. He was my first ever hockey fight back when I was 14.
PC - When you attempted to come back in Albany, apparently you broke your leg in your first game. Can you shed some light on what happened?
Peat - It was my third shift. I shouldn’t even have been playing since I wasn’t fully healed from my prior surgery to my left groin. But my coach had pleaded with me because our team had been getting pushed around and wanted me in the lineup, I was forechecking a player when he fell back on top of me and slid into the boards with me under him. It spiral fractured my ankle and tore my adductor completely off. I had three ankle surgeries and there is no procedure to fix my adductor.
PC - Everyone got really excited when they heard you had signed on to play in the ECHL last year. The next thing you know we’re reading about complications with benefits you were/are receiving for injuries. Can you fill us in on what happened? Could you play now if you wanted to?
Peat - I have been doing rehab and skating here and there, the adductor I ripped is the main one for your groin. I have strengthened as much as I can. I have yet to engage in any competitive hockey since. I had hoped to go skate with the roadrunners and see how I felt. It didn’t work out and I came home. I was held up for various reasons that I don’t care to get into.
PC - What has life after hockey having you doing these days?
Peat - I have been spending time with my family and friends. Taking some courses. Had a job working on Harleys for awhile. Now I am taking a course again. Most of all just enjoying life.
PC - Who was your favorite fighter growing up?
Peat - Wendel Clark, Tony Twist
PC - What enforcers did you really respect while playing?
Peat - I respect every player that fills the enforcer roll, doesn’t mean I like them all though.
PC - Who did you not care for so much?
Peat - I don’t care for pretenders and you all know who they are.
PC - Who do you respect these days in the minors/European leagues and in the NHL?
Peat - Tough to say I mostly only catch some of the Canucks games now.
PC - Toughest guy you ever fought?
Peat - I thought that Eric Cairns was a pretty tough dude. Brashear too.
PC - If you could fight one guy today at Center Ice of Madison Square Garden, who would it be?
Peat - Not too sure bout that one.
PC - What are your general thoughts on what’s become of the NHL in terms of toughness?
Peat - It seems as if there are fewer heavyweights and more middles. I think fighting will always be part of the game.
PC - A couple guys wanted to know your thoughts on:
Kyle Freadrich (you fought him three times)
Peat - tough guy to bad his career was so short.
PC - Derek Boogaard
Peat - I fought him once in juniors but I think he was just learning back then cause I beat him then but not sure how I would do these days
PC - Jon Mirasty
Peat - don’t know much about him
PC - Eric Godard
Peat - Me and this guy fought all through juniors. One tough SOB.
PC - Are you friends with any tough guys these days?
Peat - Not really I speak with Garrett Burnette and that’s about it.
PC - Anything else you want to add??? Thanks so much for your time Stephen! We’d all love to see you drop in from time to time around Fried Chicken’s (http://www.hockey-fights.com). Again, if there is anything we can do for YOU, let me know! Matt
Peat - Just would like to thank the fans for there support over the years.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Let me give you three examples. Your head will be spinning by the time this is done.
Example 1: Owen Nolan -vs- Scott "Fire Pants" Hartnell --- 2 Minutes Each for Roughing.
Example 2: Zdeno "No Fighting Majors This Year" Chara -vs- Steve Downie --- Chara Four for Roughing; Downie Two for Holding.
Example 3: Colton Orr -vs- Cam Janssen --- 5 Minutes Each for Fighting.
So Janssen barely throws anything and gets 5? Meanwhile we have Zdeno Chara pounding (gloves off) on a tiny tyke in Downie and he gets 4? Nolan and Hartnell had a full on fight and got 2 each?
Do referees review tapes together at some point and go through reliability checks? If not, it's time to start... with fighting majors preferably.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
From the NHLPA website:
So as mentioned by Pierre Lebrun, the NHL believes these new rules DO NOT have to go the Competition Committee. Paul Kelly clearly disagrees if you read his statement above.P. Kelly – “I don’t think there is any appetite on the part of the GMs to eliminate or reduce fighting in the game. Frankly, those sentiments are echoed by the players. We explained to the GMs that the players believe that fighting plays an important and historic role in the game, and that fighting has actually kept down the level of violence in the game by allowing players to self-police themselves. We did say that while we believe that we should have fighting in our game, that we should also continue to look at ways to make it as safe as possible for our players. These are things that obviously should be debated and ultimately decided on by the Competition Committee.”
Remember that the Competition Committee is made up of four GMs and four players. And it has been said that 7 out of 10 would have to approve the new rules to go to the Board of Governors (i.e. the owners) for a final vote.
And being that Kelly said the GMs and players don't have the appetite to curb fighting, don't expect EITHER of these proposed rules to pass.
That is................... unless the NHL wins out by saying that this a rule "tweak".... and not a new rule.
And if that is the case, this is a CLEAR move by the NHL BRASS to curb fighting... and at the disapproval of the NHLPA and GMs no less.
So everyone please FINALLY understand that while the fans, players, and GMs don't want to touch fighting or its respective rules, THE NHL, led by Gary Bettman and his cronies, have their own beliefs about how the league should be run.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
1) Add a 10-minute misconduct to "staged" fights that happen off a faceoff.
Probability - Very likely.
What will happen as a result - Fights off of a faceoff account for 22% of all fights. While the thought is that all of these fights are staged, that couldn't be further from the truth. There's a difference between staged for a reason and staged for no reason. One serves a purpose and one doesn't.
The Georges Laraque/Raitis Ivanans "You wanna go... good luck" audio recorded fight was actually the catalyst to this rule. The yuppie media jumped all over this fight for being nonsensical and unnecesarry. Believie it or not, they were right. The fight has no impact on the game. Even a lot of hockey fight fans will agree with that these days. The days of the two-minute goon are all but done. There's nothing that can be done to change that. Beyond that, spontaneous, emotion-filled fights are more exciting to watch.
The problem with this rule is fights off the draw do serve a purpose sometimes. Guys fight to change the momentum of the game. They fight as payback to a dirty play that occured earlier in the game. Or they fight because they simply don't like the other player. There's nothing wrong with this; and it's in the best interests of the NHL to let them fight so players don't resort to other far worse actions to send a message.
So what will happen. Let Riley Cote answer that for you...
"In certain situations, it might look like a staged fight, but it really isn't'' said Cote. It's more working around the rules they've put into place. I just think they (the NHL) are overreacting on the whole thing."
That's right, guys will still fight... they'll just set it up to skate away for a few seconds and then meet back up. Players aren't dumb. Some of these rules are though.
Impact - The two or three two-minute goons left in the game won't be playing any more.
2) Call more instigator penalties for fights that happen as a result of clean hits.
This is one we have been hearing a lot about recently. You usually hear about from a play-by-play commentator when one of their players knocks an opposing player on his ass and a teammate jumps in to send a message that even hard, clean runs aren't acceptable.
In reality, this rule won't be an actual rule. It will be the league telling the referees to focus more on calling instigator penalties when clean hits are followed immediately by a fight.
Newsflash... they already make these calls!
If anything, the league is sending a message that the "rats" of the NHL are now protected. They can now run around and take big runs at star players and the league will protect them by ensuring an instigator rule is called when they are made to fight for taking that run. Good call NHL... protect the rats... don't protect your stars.
Impact - None. Teammates will still protect teammates. CLEAN HITS CAN BE BRUTAL. The end result for protecting a teammate is putting your team behind a man for two minutes. Teammates have to decide between that and having their team plowed in to the ice night in and night out. End result... players take the two minutes and send a message that even clean, hard hits (that hurt) won't be tolerated.
3) Have the referees jump in when a helmet pops off in a fight.
Probability - Unlikely.
This isn't happening. The damage isn't even close. Hands/knuckles -vs- head injuries. Hands/knuckles wins out every time. There is a good reason that players remove their helmets before fights on occasion (especially when wearing a visor)... punching a helmet hurts; it busts up knuckles; it breaks fingers; and it can break hands and wrists. Players take their helmets off before a fight out of respect for their opponent. Chew on that one for a while and then think if this new rule is really what the players want to protect their safety...
The NHL is looking into new helmet technology. Ted Leonsis, the Washington Capitals owner, gave me this reply when I asked him last month.
So the end result of these proposed rules isn't much. And that is good for hockey. Even Gary Bettman doesn't want fighting out of hockey. The fans love it. The players recognize it as an important component of their game. What else matters?
In all actuality, I only see the ten-minute misconduct rule as actually making it into the NHL's rule book. And that will be worked around by players that truly want to fight.
And with the influx of light and middleweights in the league and the increase in hockey fights this year, the impact on fighting totals will negligible in 2009/10.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
"The whimpification of the sport." Words straight from Mike Milbury's mouth. Words straight to the ears of a national audience. Words that couldn't have been more accurate, more truthful.
This is EMBARRASSING for the NHL. The only major network, besides the outdoor channel, that gives the NHL a national audience just ripped them... just completely mocked the sport. And this from an inside guy... a guy that played the game and was an NHL GM.
The scene. Colton Orr comes out looking for a scrap against Riley Cote as the Rangers are trailing 5-1 and are completely lifeless. Orr wants a momentum swing.
The linesman step in before the whistle and warn Orr. The puck is dropped and Orr squares up to Cote and shoves him the chest. The two whack each other and start to skate away, but wait, a whistle is blown and Orr is promptly handed a two-minute minor and a ten-minute misconduct.
The Rangers fans are baffled. Everyone watching NBC is baffled. What did Orr do to deserve 12 minutes worth of penalties?
"The whimpification of the sport." Even Pierre McGuire agrees.
The NBC panelists continue to tear this game apart. No passion. No life. This is the new NHL. This is YOUR NHL.
Thank God for Mike Milbury. Thank God for Brandon Dubinsky for showing some leadership. It's clear Scott Gomez and Chris Drury want Renney gone. A player's character, or lack thereof, shines through when their team is down.
Wait a second, Mara and Asham drop the gloves in the 3rd and Riley Cote somehow ends up with a ten-minute misconduct all his owns
Two tough guys... two ten-minute misconducts. Get the tough guys out of the game... even if they don't do anything to warrant a penalty. Look for something. Find something.
Find the name and number on his jersey. Forget Dion Phanuef and his flying elbow. His jersey reads "Phaneuf" on the back... no suspension.
Find "Cote." Find "Orr." They mouthed off? See ya in ten minutes.
This is the new NHL. This is Gary's NHL. This is the way he wants his sport played.
Forget what the fans want. Read the polls. This is the exact opposite of what any fan poll says.
Thank you to the Rangers "leaders" for probably just getting their coach fired. Thank you to the refs for calling lame misconducts.
Thank you Gary for this boring 5-2 sleeper. This is your product. And it STINKS.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
That said, I can’t stand this fighting talk nonsense anymore. The yuppie media hasn’t missed a chance to ram the anti-fighting drivel down our throats. Forget what the players have to say. Forget what the fans have to say. The yuppie media wants changes; and by God you are going to hear about it.
Leading the charge as always is TSN. Their most recent (well I haven’t checked in a couple hours) article focuses on the little known “Concussion Summit.” Apparently this Summit wants to completely ban fighting at all levels of hockey. From TSN:
"Fighting should be eliminated from hockey at all levels of the game, according to recommendations released Tuesday from an expert panel dealing with concussions in hockey... Fighting is one of the known causes of concussion, and may result in the related long-term complications," the panel's summary statement says. "Fighting can cause needless death."
I have to ask, how long did it take the" expert panel” to come up with this Earth-shattering conclusion? May, can, might, could, would… let’s get them all in while we’re at it.
And before they concluded their "expert" research, did they ever take a look at crosschecking, tripping, slewfooting, highsticking, boarding, hitting from behind, shooting a puck over 80 mph, skating with razor sharp skates at breakneck speeds?
Because, my expert research concludes that the above actions too “may result in the related long-term complications [of concussions]… and [insert above actions] can cause needless death."
Why not eliminate those actions from all levels of hockey? Why not eliminate ice? May he rest in peace, but Don Sanderson didn’t die from a punch. He died when his head hit the ice.
Let’s not stop with hockey either. Last week, X Games winner, Jeremy Lusk, died while attempting a Freestyle back flip in San Jose. Ban Freestyle Motocross? In September of 2005, a record-setting motorcycle racer died after crashing at 239 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Ban Motorcycle Speed Racing? Dale Earnhardt. Ban turns in NASCAR? Pro wrestlers have died. Ban wrestling at all levels? NFL players have died in training camps. Ban training camp? Ray Chapman in 1920. Ban baseballs? Boxing. Ban boxing?
The list goes on and on. And so do the actions that caused the results. It’s an implied risk that every player is aware of when they play a sport.
And while some of these actions led to modifications of rules or protective gear, they never led to the removal of that action. But TSN would never mention that.
Now on to this "expert panel." Apparently the group is comprised of a couple of former players. From TSN:
“Panellists [misspelled – nice job TSN] on The Concussion Summit included four former players, three of whom were knocked out of the National Hockey League as the result of concussions - Eric Lindros, Jeff Beukeboom and Alyn McCauley - along with Canadian national women's team player Jennifer Botterill, who was sidelined for a protracted period with concussion.”
“Knocked out?” That would almost lead you to believe that their concussions were the result of a fight. NOPE.
Eric Lindros was notorious for skating up and down the ice with his head down. Just ask Scott Stevens and Jason Doig, players that contributed to two of Lindros’ eight concussions… not one of which was sustained from a fight.
Jeff Beukeboom, a player that only cracked the 20 point plateau once in his career, relied on his fists to stay in the NHL, protecting Mark Messier amongst others. Beukeboom sustained one major concussion, a sucker punch from Matt Johnson that cut his career short. Much like the Bertuzzi/Moore incident, this was not a fight… it was a mugging. And if fighting is ever eliminated, expect to see more of those cowardly acts as players frustrations boil over from having their hands tied.
Alyn McCauley sustained three major concussions in his career, one from having his feet kicked out from him, one from a puck to the temple, one from getting his head run into the boards in Toronto.
Jennifer Botterill’s major concussion came from a full-speed collision with her own teammate in practice.
Four players, numerous concussions… yet not one from fighting from this "expert panel" that I am aware of. So why aren’t we banning skating with your head down, tripping, slapshots or running into players in practice? Why fighting all the sudden?
Oh right, it may result in long-term complications or might cause death. Groundbreaking research I tell ya. I guess boxing hasn't taught us anything.
But let the yuppie media present it to us as "expert" information. Yeah right...
I can’t take it anymore. Time for a Starbucks coffee folks.
Wait a second, I better not go. I have to cross the DC streets to get to Starbucks… and that might result in me getting run over, which may result in long-term complications (in addition to the caffeine in the coffee) and could result in death.
Time to call Adrian Fenty about outlawing pedestrians from crossing his DC streets, right?