Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bettman and Cronies Trying to Curb Fighting

Let me spell it out for the Gary protectors and anti-fighting yuppies...

From the NHLPA website:

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.
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.

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

The Impact of the NHL's New Proposed Fighting Rules

The NHL General Managers meeting recent wrapped up and word out of the three-day meeting is the GMs are proposing three changes to the NHL's rule book for next season. Let's take a look in order of probability of the rules actually passing through the Competition Committee and the Board of Governors.

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.

Probability - Likely; but not in the form of a rule.

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.