Tag:NHL Fighting
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 10:54 am

Daily Skate: Shark questions, examining enforcers

By Brian Stubits

MAKEOVER CONCERNS: Not everybody is digging what the Sharks have done this offseason in making over the roster in an attempt to finally get over the hump. David Pollack at the San Jose Mercury News says it raises questions ... how often does an elite team undergo such change? That's just one.

ENFORCING CHANGE: In the ongoing discussion on fighting, Kukla's Korner says that it's not very realistic to expect fighting to be removed from the NHL anytime soon. Instead, the way to curb fighting is to change today's role of the enforcer, instead expecting them to be contributing players beyond using their fists.

THE HEX IS BACK: There is another Hextall in hockey (L.A. Times). Brett Hextall, the son of Ron, was drafted by the Coyotes in the sixth round of the 2008 draft and he hit the ice against his dad's team, the Kings (Ron is assistant GM in L.A. these days). Brett, a forward, was physical on the ice. Surprise, surprise.

OTTAWA OPTIMISM: Senators GM Bryan Murray recently did a Q&A with the Ottawa Sun in which he talked about the team this upcoming season and the transition from Cory Clouston (with some more veiled parting shots) to Paul MacLean and Murray's belief the Sens will push for the playoffs ... this season.

TURRIS TAKE: After the flurry of signings on Wednesday and Thursday, the list of remaining RFAs unsigned is short, but the Coyotes' Kyle Turris is still on the list. With his high asking price ($3 million- $4million?!), it has Matthew Sekeres at the Globe and Mail wondering if it isn't a trade request in disguise.

ISLAND DEVELOPMENT: A Baltimore development company is showing renewed interest (Newsday) in developing the area around the Islanders home, Nassau Coliseum, something it originally showed interest in back in 2005. It's still too early to know what the full plan would call for and what it would mean to the Isles.

HUDLER'S HOPE: Coming off a disappointing season with the Red Wings, Jiri Hudler returns to Detroit this fall knowing he has to make a much better impression (Detroit Free Press), putting a lot of pressure on himself to show more than he did a season ago after a summer of UFC training.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 14, 2011 9:36 am

Daily Skate: Belak's depression; Blues update

By Brian Stubits

BELAK'S DEPRESSION: Here is a very powerful piece written by Michael Landsberg at TSN, a good friend to the late Wade Belak. It's a terrific read that gives a closer look into each of their issues with depression, offering up a different perspective. Really worth a read.

ST. LOUIS SALE: The Blues are still searching for a new ownership group as Dave Checketts tries to separate himself from the franchise. A new and promising group has emerged (St. Louis Post-Dispatch) to possibly push this sale closer to a reality. The group, led by Calgary businessman and former Coyotes suitor Max Chambers, includes six-time Cup winner Bryan Trottier.

TWEET BEAT: Do you enjoy following some of the Flyers on Twitter like Ilya Bryzgalov or James van Riemsdyk? They might not be entertaining as much in the coming months. The Flyers are cracking down on how much the players Tweet during "business hours" as prospect Zac Rinaldo recently found out (from Puck Daddy/Courier Times).

QUITE A PAIR: Welcome to Detroit, Ian White. The defenseman is getting a nice signing bonus, opening training camp as the defensive partner of Nicklas Lidstrom. The other Red Wings pairings will be Brad Stuart with Niklas Kronwall then Mike Commodore will join forces with Brendan Smith when camp opens.

THE FIGHT GOES ON: The fight over fighting in the NHL has grown to an all-time high this offseason. Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun is one of those who would like to see the pugilism expunged from the sport, but believes the only way that will get done is with a strong-willed GM.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: It's awesome enough when your season tickets arrive at your house, nothing gets the blood pumping quite like seeing your admission slips. Now just imagine those season tickets being delivered by none other than Sidney Crosby? That's what a few Penguins fans got to experience.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 15, 2011 4:22 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 8:03 pm

Examining fighting in today's NHL game

By Brian Stubits

I remember as a kid growing up attending minor-league hockey games, nothing would excite me, or the crowd, like a fight. Goals were nice -- and there were plenty, the Tacoma Sabercats were regular contenders in the now-defunct WCHL -- but a sure-fire way to get the people out of their seats was a good ol' scrap.

This isn't limited to the small leagues, you can see it all across the NHL. Not to speak too broad, but people love fights. They're exciting. They get the blood pumping, on the ice and off.

To further illustrate, I recall my fondest memory of going to the rink growing up wasn't when I watched my hometown team win the championship, but it was a fight that went too far. After a fight sent an opposing player to the sin bin, things got heated with a fan sitting near the penalty box. Next thing you know, a beer comes flying from about 10 rows up and hits the box. From there the player, rightfully, snaps as the fan comes rushing down the stairs and starts pounding the glass. All the while, the player in the box begins grabbing anything he can -- sticks, water bottles, whatever -- and is throwing them at the guy right below him. Realizing that isn't working, he attempts to climb out of the box, skates on and everything. Standing on the bench, he tries once or twice to jump over the boards before he and the fan are eventually subdued and hauled away by police.

Even such extremes like that aren't limited to the minors. Remember this nostalgic Nordiques-Sabres scrum?

The Islanders will be hosting a party where they will replay the big brawl the team had with the Penguins. The Puck Daddy blog runs a summer series interviewing other writers and celebrities about their hockey Guilty Pleasures, with one of the standard questions asking the subject for his/her "Favorite Fight or Brawl of All-Time." Heck, there is an entire website out there dedicated just to fights in the sport -- Hockeyfights.com.

For those reasons alone I am a fan of fighting. The way I see it, you give the customers what they want, and they have shown they want fights, the most ardent fans that is. That's what TSN concluded in 2009. Attend any game across the league and notice how the reaction for a fight can be nearly equal to that of a goal (regular-season game, at least).

But as I said, you can't put every fan into one stereotype, there are plenty of people who oppose hockey's gladiatorial nature. That crowd is growing by the hour. The more injuries that occur, the more people are waking up to the serious dangers and risks enforcers put themselves through. Take a look at what Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland looked like after a scrap that was caught in HBO's 24/7 series. Watch (NSFW warning: language).

The more brain trauma gets linked with former fighters such as Bob Probert or tragedies happen to fighters like Derek Boogaard's death, the closer we will get to fighting being removed from the game. I believe I will see fighting all but phased out of the NHL in my lifetime. It's not happening yet or very soon, but eventually.

Here is what NHL spokesman Frank Brown told the Washington Post earlier this year: “We believe it’s a safety valve that prevents worse from happening on the ice.”

That's pretty much the same rationale people give for supporting the legalization of drugs. If you erase the underground nature of drugs you can reduce crime and the logjam of the criminal justice system. (Plus it would help with the nation's deficit, but that's another discussion.)

In that Post story detailing Matt Hendricks' enforcer role with the Capitals you will find the exact reason why it will be so hard to get rid of fighting if the NHL even wanted to.

“It’s not the most fun job in the world,” he says, shrugging. “I like it when it’s over. I like what my teammates say when I’m done. They know I’m doing it for them. You have to be willing. You don’t do it for personal gain. ... It’s what I have to do to play in the NHL.”

That last part. It's what I have to do to play in the NHL. Try convincing the players and NHLPA to cut fighting, because if you do you are cutting jobs for those guys who do it for a living, it's how they earn their paychecks. It's what they have to do to play in the NHL.

At some point, though, it has to be about player safety, doesn't it? In today's NHL when they are always examining ways to eliminate dangerous shots that have sidelined players, isn't fighting the next logical target? Won't somebody please think of the children!

Peter Raaymakers (how awesome is it that a guy who writes a blog post on fighting has a name that rhymes with haymakers?) at the Silver Seven blog did, writing an excellent post concerning the mental toll the enforcers take.

Of course, if every fight looked like this, nobody would care. (Hat tip to Puck Daddy.)

Now back to the regularly scheduled programming. ...

People will forever debate for and against fighting in hockey. The traditionalists believe there is a place for it, saying its vigilante justice is imperative and fights can be key to momentum. There's a reason fighting exists and it's more than pure primal rage. But I would counter that if fighting were so important and vital to the sport, why does it all but disappear in the biggest games of the calendar; the playoffs?

The game transforms more and more every year to a skilled version that is opened up. Remember all the rules the NHL established after the lockout to increase scoring and thus interest? Fighting doesn't necessarily fit in.

A look at the numbers show fighting has gone down since the start of the century, with a slight decline in fighting since 803 in the 2001-02 season. Take a look at the chart below (source: hockeyfights.com) to see for yourself. It is still prevalent, but the same way Rome wasn't built in a day, you won't have a sharp decline in it overnight without more stringent rules to deter.

Admittedly, I'm OK with fighting in hockey. But I would be OK without it, too, and I find myself trending that way more and more each day. Would the game really be missing much? Well, colorful guys like George Parros might not be as visible or even in the NHL, which would be shame, but from a standpoint of the game? I don't think so.

So here's our informal poll: Do you want to see fighting taken out of the game?

Fights in the NHL
Season Games Fights Fights per game Games with fights No. of players who fought
2010-11 1230 645 0.52 458 348
2009-10 1230 714 0.58 493 341
2008-09 1230 734 0.60 509 355
2007-08 1230 664 0.54 473 324
2006-07 1230 497 0.40 384 292
2005-06 1230 466 0.38 357 276
2003-04 1230 789 0.64 506 340
2002-03 1230 668 0.54 464 321
2001-02 1230 803 0.65 519 348
2000-01 1230 684 0.56 469 329

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com