Sunday, April 8, 2007

Sig's 2006-2007 Hockey Fight Awards

Before we jump into my awards for the 2006-2007, let's first take a peak at the overall picture. The unnofficial number of fights for this year is at 495. That is up from 466 in 2005-2206 and down from 789 in 2003-2004. So beware when Uncle Gary tells you that fighting is actually up in the NHL... there is always a convenient comparison. Fighting is actually down some 37% from before the lockout... or pre-new NHL. And to put things into perspective, the chances that you'll see a fight in a game are 1 in 3 as a fight occurs, on average, in 40% of games. And now for the innaugural NHL Fight Awards for 2006-2007.

Disappointment of the Year:

Zdeno Chara - After commenting that he would be there to protect his teammates at the beginning of the season, Bruins fans were treated to NO Zdeno Chara fights this year. Some protection. After taking on the likes of Eric Cairns and Ratis Ivanans last year, Chara was non-existent in 06-07. Now I'm not a Bruins fan, but I am sure there are many Beantowners that are embarrassed with the giant's lack of toughness this year. A huge presence on the ice at 6'9"; an abolsute ghost in the fight department.

Close Second - Eric Boulton - While Boulton's fight totals have dropped every year while playing for Bob "my players are too pretty to fight" Hartley, five doesn't cut it. I personally watched Boulton turn down invitations from Donald Brashear on a few occasions. But not only did he turn him down, he hacked and whacked Brashear and then skated away on a few occasions. It was disgraceful to watch. And with the exception of Colton Orr twice (one a clear loss and one an edge for Orr) and Eric Godard (a clear loss), Jeremy Reich (another loss for Boulton) and Nick Tarnasky aren't exactly tough guys... which shows you exactly what opponents think of Boulton's toughness.

Newcomer of the Year:

Ben "Pycho Shifts" Eager - Yeah he really did Riley Cote "Let's have a psycho shift." Just listen to the clip. And that is exactly what Ben Eager did this year to all of his opponents. For a team that lacked a physical presence for most of the year, Eager was more than a pleasent surprise. The sophomore forward racked up 18 fights for the orange and black this year and led in the league in PIMs by a wide margin (233 for Eager; next closest was Sean Avery at 174). Some of the more well known guys on Eager's fight card include Brendan Witt, Garth Murray, Adam Mair, Ryan Hollweg, David Hale, Mike Commodore, and Colton Orr. And if you don't recall, Eager took on Orr after Orr KO'd his linemate Todd Fedorek. But not only did he step up to avenge the KO and take on a bigger tough guy, he actually edged him out.

Team of the Year:

Is there any doubt? The Anaheim Ducks. With 71 fighting majors this year, there was no messing with the Ducks. The next closest team was Phoenix with a mere 47. The Ducks were packed this year starting with George "Porn Stache" Parros (18 fights), Sean O'Donnell (12 fights), Shawn Thornton (12 fights), and Travis Moen (9 fights). Overall, the Ducks had 15 of their players accumulate at least one fighting major this year. And while the Ducks were tough on the ice, their GM was even tougher in the media. Let's get straight to it... Brian Burke SHOULD be the next NHL Commissioner. The guy is a straight shooter, both with his team and with fighting in the NHL. And while NHL lamoes hide behind their desks as a few fight nim wits ruffle some feathers, Burke hit the media with classic line after classic line. Take a peak:

"It's always the same pattern," Burke said. "You have a fight where someone gets knocked out. . . . Now, the media outlets that pay no attention to us lead with that story. We were on CNN. CNN, who doesn't give us any coverage. It's a flash point for non-hockey fans and non-traditional media venues. Now everyone weighs in on it. People who haven't been to a game in 10 years, don't support the game, aren't involved in the game, but they can go on [television] and say it's time to get rid of fighting."

"Within the game, there is no debate. The vast majority of the people in hockey, the vast majority of the players, the vast majority of the managers and coaches, want to keep fighting in."

Which leads to the Quote of the Year:

Brian Burke: "That's the way our team is built. If you're going to come into our barn you better be ready for a square dance."

Fight of the Year:

Eric Godard -vs- Derek Boogard

Derek "Boogeyman" Boogaard is a monster. And after watching Boogaard run Flame after Flame in the last game, Jim Playfair had seen enough. The next game, this time in Calgary, the Flames called up tough guy Eric Godard. And while Boogaard could probably beat Godard 8 out of 10 times, this time it was all Godard. The tough enforcer proceeded to drop the Boogeyman twice in front of the Calgary crowd. It was a major boost for the Calgary players and a clear message that the Flames were not going to be run anymore without some sort of response.

Fighter of the Year:

Jordin Tootoo. Probably not the most popular of choices. But I can't help be impressed with Tootoo. A fan favorites in Nashville where fans blow Tootoo whistles when he hits the ice, Tootoo certainly won me over this year. The 5'9", 182 lb wears his heart on his sleeve. He hits everthing in sight and routinley backs up his physical play by dropping the gloves. And while I can certainly understand questioning giving the Fighter of the Year trophy (well there is no trophy) to a guy that wears a visor, I will say that Tootoo does not hide behind his visor... he removes it when there is time. What was most impressive about Tootoo this year is that he routinely took on guys bigger than him and did well. Tootoo hung in with Reed Low (6'4", 220 lbs) and slapped around Shane O'Brien (6'2", 237 lbs) to name of a few of his biggest opponents. Tootoo racked up 12 fighting majors (6 wins, 2 losses, 6 draws) this year, good for sixth in the NHL. His only losses (Low, Boynton) both came in his first two fights as well. Tootoo proceeded racked up victories against Goertzen, Brewer, Seabrook, Mayers, O'Brien, and Regher. Toss in a KO of Robidas and you have 7 victories. Congrats to Jordan for becoming TMFB's first Fighter of Year Award winner!

Close second - Donald Brashear - With 14 fights, Brashear was fourth in the league in fights. And with the exception of some a tough matchup with Andre Roy and Andrew Peters (ate a good one and kept going), Brashear was a dominant heavyweight this year. Brashear scored victories over Colton Orr (three times), Vishnevski (bloodying him for Sutton's knee on Green), Danny Bois, George Parros, Andrew Peters (in the rematch), Shanahan (what a warrior Shanny is for even going), Downey (bloodied Downey badly) and Roy (in another rematch after a loss). Overall Brashear went 10-3-1 against opponents this year. Love him or hate him, Brashear is one of the most effective fighters in the NHL. He was also the best enforcer in the NHL this year as well.

2006-2007 NHL's Top Ten - I hate top tens because you can't help but think about the previous year as well. But I'll give it a go:

1) Donald Brashear - 10-3-1 this year; stepped up to the plate against many haters.
2) Georges Laraque - results aside, he doesn't fight enough; his fight with Brashear should have been two for slapping.
3) Derek Boogaard - has yet to beat Laraque; Brashear "slipped" before they could get going.
4) Andrew Peters - scored a great win against Brashear this year.
5) Brian McGratton - right below his rival.
6) George Parros - led the league in fights this year.
7) Colton Orr - take away his losses to Brashear and he gets ranked higher; KO'd the Fridge; beat Jannssen soundly.
8) D.J. King - beat Shelley badly, Barch, Parros, Hordichuk, and Parker. Look out NHL!
9) Jody Shelley - beat Parros, McGratton, and Ivanans.
10) Jordan Tootoo - for the reasons explained above; 6-2-6 this year. Reminds me off a raw Domi.

Feel free to leave a comment to disagree with any/all of this. I welcome the debate. Look out for Huard's 2006-2007 fight awards... coming soon!!!

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