Wednesday, February 21, 2007

You ready? You ready? Let's Instigate!

Let’s get it on! Well, not really. The news that NHL GMs have voted to up the number of instigators needed for a suspension isn’t all the exciting. Previous rules dictated that a player that accumulated three instigators be suspended for two games. The new rule, should it pass with the NHL Board of Governors, would raise that number to five instigators.
So the question is… what exactly is this going to do? The major media writers keep pointing to the abuse Sidney Crosby is taking, but he is way out in front in the NHL scoring race; so how does it make sense to say that he is not getting room on the ice? Sure there have been a couple of instances where he has been run at. My personal opinion is forget Crosby… look at the beating Jagr has been taking. And he has a tough guy in Colton Orr and a willing combatant in Ryan Hollweg. What have they done for Jagr?

Will they and other enforcers be more willing to drop the gloves and go after an opposing player for taking liberties with the team’s star player? I mean, let’s face it, we are only talking about two more instigators. The only one in the NHL that has accumulated three this year has been Ben Eager. But that may be the point… tough guys are less willing to protect their stars when they get to two.

So how does this make things any different when these same guys get to four? It doesn’t. So how much does this really change things? I guess now enforcers will be available to go after opposing players on four occasions instead of two… whoopee! While this will do a lot of good for Brian Burke’s Anaheim Ducks, you know… the same Brian Burke that introduced this idea and the same Brian Burke that carries four regular willing tough guys, what good will this do for the Detroit Red Wings (no toughness) or the Florida Panthers (no toughness) or the Minnesota Wild (one heavyweight and no toughness after that)? The answer is, it won’t do them any good. These teams will have to continue to inaccurately state that the possess team toughness.

Ultimately, this change does very little overall. The NHL will finally get it right when it decides to do one thing… listen to its fans. Its fans have already given their views on the instigator penalty… and over 80% of them said they wanted it removed completely.

So where does the true answer lie? Somewhere in between as always. The NHL will get it right when it modifies the instigator, making it either a two-minute minor or a ten-minute misconduct. I very seriously doubt this will ever happen… the NHL would much rather cater to the liberal media that wants a ban on fighting than to its fans that want more fighting. And I really don’t know why. I mean, the NHL relies of fan attendance as the largest source of its revenue. And the NHL will get good and bad media regardless of what it does. And, ultimately, Gary Bettman hides from fans and the media. So he might as well make a smart financial decision from under his desk.

1 comment:

Drew said...

I wouldn't go calling it the "liberal media," as opposed to just an anti-fighting media or an anti-hockey media. As one who is involved in the so-called "liberal media" (radio producer with a journalism degree) and also a huge hockey fan, I don't fit into this description. And more often in the past months, the hockey media has come out strongly in support of fighting as seen by some of the articles posted and linked at

Besides, you mentioned (and accurately) that Bettman is afraid to talk to the media, but at the same time, it's pretty obvious Bettman is anti-fighting. Shouldn't the two go skipping off into the sunset hand-in-hand if this were the case?

I don't think sports media as a whole is as anti-fighting as it's just anti-hockey. They'll bash fighting one minute, then bash the anti-fighting Bettman the next minute. There is no consistency. The game can't win with the media.