Tag:NHL Fights
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:00 am
 

Kids' postgame handshake erupts into brawl

By Brian Stubits

Line brawls are always a hit in hockey, aren't they? Fans love fights, so how about five fights all at once? Maybe even 20 fights all at once after something like the postgame handshake?

If that's your sort of thing, consider this your lucky day. Because in Kazakhstan, two teams made up of 9-year-olds -- yes, only 9 years old -- decided to carry their hostilities to the postgame handshake.

For a little more context, here's the description of the video posted on YouTube.

This is my 9-year-old brother's team Kokshetau -- Burabay (green) fighting against the team from the capital city of Kazakhstan -- Astana (white). Even though team Astana won against Burabay 5:3, they started talking crap to their opponents during hand shakes; so the capitan of Burabay's team could not just let it go and started the fight.

Here's the result:

It's not exactly the brawl between two Turkish teams, but for a few fleeting moments it's pure chaos. Order is easily and quickly restored, however, when the adults threaten to take away the kids' postgame snacks.

Here's a quick geography tip on Kazakhstan: It's more than the home of Borat. Current NHLers Evgeni Nabokov and Nik Antropov call the country home, too.

H/t to Yardbarker

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

Posted on: December 8, 2011 4:08 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 6:37 pm
 

Looking deeper at concussions, fighting in hockey

By Brian Stubits

If your Facebook news feed is anything like mine, Dec. 7 was filled with loads of remembrances for Pearl Harbor Day, 70 years ago this year. Despite nobody I saw posting about never forgetting the day weren't even born, it was a worthwhile message nonetheless. Never forget the lessons and hardships of the past.

I would like to say the same about Derek Boogaard, the former Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers enforcer who died over the summer of an accidental overdose, a deadly mix of alcohol and Oxycodone. Don't forget his life and death -- same goes for Rick Rypien and Wade Belak.

In case you missed it, I strongly suggest you carve out a good chunk of time to check out the recent three-part story from the New York Times on Boogaard's life, an award-worthy story. It's incredibly well done. It's moving. I am not ashamed to admit that by the end of the story, I was on the verge of tears.

New York Times: Punched Out. Part I | Part II | Part III | Video

Of the many things to come out of the story, one was the revelation that Boogaard's brain, which had been donated to the Boston University study exploring Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), was showing shocking amounts of the condition already. To put it comparatively, Boogaard's 28-year-old brain had a worse CTE condition than the brain of Probert, who was 46 years old when he died.

Now I know what you're going saying: "Oh great, another anti-fighting story." Well, yes, for the most part this is. I have made my unpopular opinion on this topic made known in the past. But the latest information on Boogaard, the fact that his brain was severely damaged, it's worth revisiting.

Instead of just me standing on a soap box, I turned to Dr. Ricardo Komotar for some information on the discussion. Dr. Komotar is Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery at the University of Miami School of Medicine. He graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in neuroscience from Duke University, spending a year at Oxford University in England to focus on neuropharmacology. He received his medical degree from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with highest honors and completed his internship and neurosurgical residency at Columbia University Medical Center/The Neurological Institute of New York, followed by a surgical neurooncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center to specialize in brain tumors.

So he knows a thing or two about the brain. I'm sure you can probably assume the answer, but what's his take on fighting in hockey?

"I think it should be 100 percent banned," Dr. Komotar said. "It's clearly unnecessary violence. Fighting is something you can obviously eliminate immediately. When you're talking about eliminating head blows in football, you're kind of limited on what you can do without completely changing the sport. Fighting in hockey seems like something that you could eliminate without changing the sport at all. You could make a big change, I think, without really altering the fundamentals of the game."

Which is true. The game itself wouldn't be effected. They still play ice hockey the same way in the Olympics and NCAA, do they not?

Dr. Komotar continued.

"Think about it. The only reason fighting is allowed is for entertainment purposes. It has nothing to do with the outcome of the game, it has nothing to do with the competitive nature of the game. They keep it because the people that go to hockey games want to see a fight. It's kind of sick. You're letting people do bare-knuckle boxing just so the crowd gets a tease out of it. It's something that has nothing to do with the game and only risks the players just so the crowd can get a thrill. It doesn't make sense to me.

"It shouldn't be something you're warned against. I mean the refs don't even break it up. That's crazy. The refs should just break it up. It shouldn't be endorsed.

"I mean to me it seems very straight forward, [removing fighting] is the clear, logical thing to do."

The hockey purists say fighting does play a role in the game. It's the old reasoning that the threat of violence actually prevents violence. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello put it this way.

"Fighting is part of our game," Lamoriello said. "It impedes more injuries to happen because of what potentially can happen with people taking liberties they shouldn't take."

I have heard this rationale for a long time and I just don't buy it. First of all, if Player A does something to injure Player B, a lot of times a fight ensues not between those players or even involving one of those players. Instead, it will be enforcer vs. enforcer. Where is the deterrent for a player that isn't answering for his own hit but letting somebody else do the dirty work?

But moreover, I believe there is actually evidence to show how backward this thinking is. This season, concussions in the NHL are down 33 percent, the league says. That's a very steep drop. And what is the difference between this season and past seasons? Why, Brendan Shanahan as the league disciplinarian, of course.

Under his short time in the role, he had made a concentrated effort to remove dangerous plays from the game. And if the stats are to be taken at face value, it seems to be working. It leads me to the conclusion that nobody can better prevent dangerous plays than the league office itself. Getting serious on fines and suspensions is doing a better job getting the dirty and dangerous hits out of the game than any enforcer ever did.

With all that said, getting rid of fighting won't happen any time soon. Commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated that point again to the Times, saying that there is no appetite for among the powers that be in the league to remove fighting from the game.

Here is the third of three video segments from the Times that deals more with Boogaard's brain study. The Bettman interview begins around the 9:30 mark.

But here's the crux of what inspired me to write about this topic again today. The state of Boogaard's brain was so deteriorated, it took the researchers at BU by surprise. Of the entire story, though, this is what perhaps caught my eye the most.

Last winter, a friend said, a neurologist asked Boogaard to estimate how many times his mind went dark and he needed a moment to regain his bearings after being hit on the head, probable signs of a concussion. Four? Five? Boogaard laughed. Try hundreds, he said.

Needless to say, things like that have caused the conversation about fighting in the sport to start up again. It's no wonder why Boogaard's brain was so deteriorated.

Here is something Bettman had to say at the Board of Governors meeting, and I quote the Associated Press. "He [Bettman] said he considers head trauma that comes from fighting different from injuries that come from hits because fighters are willing combatants and not taken by surprise."

"I use one word for that," Dr. Komotar said. "Ridiculous. Head trauma is head trauma. The origin of the head trauma doesn't matter. You get hit bare knuckle in the right spot, it can be a lot worse than if you get hit against the wall by a check, and vice versa. The reason for the head trauma and the situation for the head trauma has zero impact on its chronic effect. It's head trauma no matter how you slice it."

Bettman also said from the BOG meeting this week that there is not enough evidence to draw conclusions about the link between concussions and the CTE that has been found not only in Boogaard's brain, but the other three brains of former enforces that have been studied.

That is true. There is no direct causality and there might not ever be one.

"I think it's possible [to draw a causality line] because you're talking about ... everyone's brain is different," Dr. Komotar said. "Everyone's ability to have a concussion and recover is different, but I think what we've learned, especially in the last five or 10 years, is that it's not the force of one head injury. It's the repetition and the fact that you're not allowed to recover.

"Back in the day, people would have concussions and they wouldn't be allowed to recover the way they are nowadays. I think what is very clear is that repetitive concussions over a short period of time ... as those numbers go up, the risk of chronic brain damage increases. You'll never have a direct causality. Ten concussions equal this many years to your brain injury. Because every one's brain is different, and every concussion has a different amount of force. But what is known is that if you have three concussions in the course of three months, that's a lot worse than just one big concussion and then you're allowed a year to recover. Which is why the NFL and NHL have such strict concussion rules now."

It comes across to me as the league hiding behind a guise, ignoring the possibilities of the situation. What gets me is that since it can't be proven yet (maybe never), the NHL seems to want to go on with the status quo. It's akin to hearing that seat belts have a chance to save your life in the case of a car accident, but since you can die in a crash with your seat belt on, too, I'll just continue not to wear one.

It also reminds me of an argument that people make regarding religion. Some say they believe because if they are wrong, they won't know any better, but if the non-believer is wrong, then they will spend an eternity in Hell. Wouldn't you rather be safe than sorry? That's the same situation here, in my mind. Why not be proactive, be on the safe side? This really is a matter of people's lives.

It's not just about players dying, but the quality of their lives after playing. Nobody can know for sure, but if Boogaard were still alive, his quality of life wouldn't have been the same down the line.

"Tough to predict exactly [Boogaard's future condition], but the thought is that it [CTE] causes essentially an early Alzheimer’s and/or Parkinson's condition," Dr. Komotar said. "So something like Mohammed Ali. Overall, it's the death of neurons from chronic and repetitive head trauma, which leads to neuronal cell death. So all the brain cells start dying and the brain starts looking like someone who is 30 or 40 years older. You get an early dementia, an early Alzheimer's and an early Parkinson's. Again, is it 100 percent correlated? No. But that's the thought and it's been known to happen, as it did in Mohammed Ali."

That would likely have been the result for a player who grew up fighting, made his living as an enforcer. I'm not trying to say here that the number of concussions played an impact in Boogaard's death. Sadly, the use and abuse of prescription drugs is as big a concern as anything.

But the issue of repeated concussions is very concerning. We are learning all the time more about them and the damage they can do.

"What's interesting is that the old school of thought -- and I mean about only 10 years ago -- the thought was that you had to have a loss of consciousness to have a concussion," Dr. Komotar said. "What people are realizing now is that less than 15 percent of all concussions involve a loss of consciousness. So you're talking about the vast majority of concussions, the person never loses consciousness. So you're talking about 80 percent of the time back in the past, people were having concussions and not recognizing it, then going back into action. That's where you get the real damage. People are starting to recognize now that you don't need a loss of consciousness. They are holding players out. They have much more stringent rules in terms of re-entering the game and that allows the brain to recover and it reduces the chance of chronic injury."

Now I've been watching hockey my whole life. I've gone to games since I was a boy. I understand that fighting is as much a fabric of the game as the ice they skate on itself. It's a tough, physical game and hockey fans are proud of the game's history, which includes fighting. I get that. It's such a small minority of people that want to see fighting removed.

Nobody likes somebody who just points to a problem. People want solutions.

That's why I'm here not to propose a removal of fighting from the game, instead, I have a different idea. Would it be popular among the players and coaches? Of course not. I can't think of anything that would. But nevertheless, here's my idea.

When players fight, they are required to go to the quiet room, the dark and obviously quiet room where players are sent for 10 minutes when it's believed they might have sustained a concussion. Every time a player gets into a fight, they are evaluated through the concussion screening process and if they are found to have sustained a concussion, they be diagnosed as such.

Essentially I'm turning the penalty for a five-minute misconduct into a 10-minute misconduct. It's a stiffer penalty, for sure, but it allows for fighting to remain in the game and it could drastically reduce the amount of damage being done to these players. As Dr. Komotar pointed out, it's the increased number of concussions a person sustains in a short amount of time that is so damaging. The thought is that this idea would go a long way in helping to avoid that problem.

But I'm sure it will be fought all the way.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: November 23, 2011 8:16 pm
Edited on: November 24, 2011 12:44 am
 

Sabres respond with quick fights vs. Lucic, Chara

By Brian Stubits

Milan Lucic expected it. Just about everybody who has seen a hockey game before was expecting it. It didn't take long to make it fait accompli.

What's it? In case you have been under a rock, that would be some retaliation on the Bruins' Lucic for the hit that left Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller on the shelf with a concussion. The Sabres, Paul Gaustad in particular, admitted to their embarrassment at the response, or lack thereof, in the game earlier in November. Consider Wednesday's rematch a second chance for the Sabres. And they seized the opportunity.

Not even two minutes into the game, Lucic made his first appearance in the game, going on the ice before a faceoff. Naturally, Gaustad was sent out immediately afterward and the two had some words before the faceoff. Then this happened.

That might be why the Sabres didn't have much of a response in the first place. Lucic gave to Gaustad pretty good. But the deed was done. It's not really about if you take the other guy down, it's that you try to take him down.

"It was an unfortunate incident in Boston," Gaustad said. "I give credit to Milan for fighting. It's something where guys don't have to. He did."

So that was it, right? The Sabres got their retribution? You know better than that.

After a hit behind Tim Thomas' net, another scrap unfolded. There was lots of action, but the stand-alone fight belonged to Robyn Regehr challenging Zdeno Chara.

That one, too, turned out just about how you'd imagine: squarely in the Bruins' favor.

Regehr deserves some major credit for showing the fortitude -- or some might say stupidity -- to challenge Chara to a fight. You don't see Big Z fight often, and that's just because nobody really wants to go a round with the monster. Well Regehr did, and it's just good that Chara let up at the end of the fight.

The intensity remained for the entire game. Just check out Brad Marchand's reaction to the Buffalo bench after scoring a goal later in the game. Yea, this is pretty heated right now.

Sometimes games live up to the expectations. Considering this was the expectation, mission complete.

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Posted on: November 15, 2011 5:33 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 10:01 am
 

Fight of the Year candidate with perfect prose

By Brian Stubits

While fights are down in the NHL, they are still happening in the AHL. If you're looking for a good scrap, that might be the place to go. After all, you might see a guy snap in the penalty box.

Or you might just see as good a scrap as you'll find all year. This one featuring Steve MacIntyre of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Eric Neilson of the Norfolk Admirals is an early candidate for Fight of the Year.

After watching that, I'm not sure which is the most impressive aspect to me. First off all, there is the flat out beating that MacIntyre lays on Nielson. Equally impressive is Neilson remaining on his feet the entire time and staying in the fight through the bitter end. The guy has guts.

But upon further inspection, I think the best part of it all is the commentating. The play-by-play is more aptly described as prose, it makes one think of boxing's old nickname, the sweet science. Incredibly descriptive.

So what say you; FOY worthy?

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 3:06 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 3:24 pm
 

Wild's Johnson won't be punished for head-butt

By Brian Stubits

Minnesota Wild forward Nick Johnson will not face any more discipline following his head-butt of Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla during a fight on Tuesday night. This according to Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The reaction by most was "What head-butt?" Well Iginla surely noticed one as during the scrap he began calling the official's attention to the perceived dirty move.

In case you missed it (the incident itself, not the head-butt, a lot of people watched and still missed that) here is the video again.

“I disagree with the call,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said after the game. “Jarome Iginla starts the thing, and then he calls it. He tells everybody on the ice that he head-butted him. All I saw was a guy trying to protect himself.”

Johnson was given a game misconduct after the fight.

“I just felt I got head-butted," Iginla said. "I haven't had that very often in a fight. I thought the refs made the right call and that was pretty much the end of it. You get fired up in a fight, and I felt like he got me a couple of times there in the head.”

This was the right call by Brendan Shanahan, and probably the easiest call he has had to make since taking over from Colin Campbell. I can see the head-butt, but it looks like a pure accident. Johnson is bobbing and weaving trying to avoid the fists of Iggy during a fight. In no way does that appear intentional. Unless maybe you live in Calgary.

More NHL Discipline News Here

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 8:37 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 8:37 pm
 

Kings' Penner to have ailing knee re-examined

By Brian Stubits

So Zac Rinaldo's hit on Drew Doughty might cost the Kings not one, but two key players for the time being.

After the Flyers' Rinaldo crushed Doughty -- on a clean hit, mind you -- Dustin Penner came to his young defenseman's defense and picked a fight with Rinaldo. Penner did finish the game, but played very little the rest of the way with what coach Terry Murray described as a "contusion" to the knee.

Here is the fight, in it's brief glory.

Not much appeared to happen, but Penner was still not feeling that great at practice on Monday as he left after about only 1/3 of the session was completed. Although Rich Hammond of the L.A. Kings Insider blog says Penner has been reassured the knee is fine. But Penner had the knee checked out just in case, per ESPN Los Angeles.

“There’s nothing I can tell you right now," Murray said after Monday's practice. "There’s no report from our doctor [right now]. It’s what I said in Philadelphia. It’s a contusion on his knee. When he had the fight, he fell. That’s what it is. He went to get it checked out by the doctor and see if there’s anything further on that.

“The plan was full practice. There was nothing, before the practice, to lead me to believe there was going to be anything different than that. Obviously it’s bothering him. He’s been reassured by the doctor in Philadelphia and the training staff here, but something is on his mind so we sent him to our team doctor.”

As of now, Penner's status is up in the air for

Los Angeles already placed Doughty on Injured Reserve after being crushed by Rinaldo. While there has been no specific word on the injury, the team is insisting it's not a concussion, something Doughty has already experienced in his young career.

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Posted on: October 14, 2011 5:04 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 5:04 pm
 

Asham calls Ovechkin hypocrite, expects fireworks

By Brian Stubits

Nothing like a fight to get things riled up once again in the NHL.

Arron Asham's knockout of Jay Beagle in last night's Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals game has been the talk of the day, the soup de jour. The fight itself was noteworthy enough. After getting his right hand free, Asham threw two punches square to Beagle's face, dropping him to the ice a bloody mess.

Obviously what took it from there to a bigger story altogether were Asham's actions immediately after the fight. On his way to the penalty box, he motioned that it was over and then did a go-to-sleep sign. Very soon Asham realized the severity of the injury for Beagle and was seen tapping the glass in support. He was further apologetic after the game.

Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who was yelling at Asham from the penalty box while serving Beagle's two-minute minor, wasn't happy in the postgame.

“It’s a fight. It’s hockey game but again it was pretty tough. Beagle, like, he’s just first-year NHL,” Ovechkin said Thursday night. “Asham, I don’t know if he knows that or not, but just put him on the ice,” Ovechkin said. Beagle is “not a fighter, it’s not his job to fight. I don’t know, it looked kind of not respectful for players on different team. I don’t know what people think, but I think it’s not respectful.”

Well that got the attention of Asham. The Penguins tough guy, who reached outto the Caps' Mike Knuble to apologize to Beagle, wasn't willing to take that from the Ovie without a retort.

More Capitals-Penguins

“I don’t know what Ovie’s talking about, disrespectful,” Asham told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “A guy who throws his stick down and warms his hands over it. He is being a hypocrite himself. The rivalry is back. I’m sure the next game is going to have a lot of fireworks.

"I woke up this morning feeling pretty stupid. Guys make mistakes. Mine could have been a lot worse than some of the mistakes that go on. I held him up at the end so he didn't smash his face up.

"I didn't know he was unconscious. I obviously want to win the fight but I don't want to hurt anyone. The thing is, I didn't go up and ask him to fight. I told him to settle down. He challenged me. He wanted to fight me."

I wasn't aware that the Penguins-Capitals rivalry had gone anywhere to the point that it's back, as Asham says, but this did solidify Dec. 1's rematch in Washington as must-see TV. After sitting out as a scratch the first three games of the season, it's probably safe to say D.J. King will be in the lineup for the Caps that day.

Meanwhile, Capitals defenseman John Carlson, only 21, took to Twitter to share some of his frustrations. After simply tweeting "#JayBeagle83", he was chirped back by a Penguins fan. Carlson's response? "Go screw yourself u mutant." Well, there's no doubting Twitter gets fans closer to athletes than every before.

Rivalries make the world go round. And in hockey, this has become one of the best and most intense out there. Now we just have some logs for the fire.

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: October 14, 2011 4:02 pm
 

Asham won't receive punishment from NHL for taunt

By Brian Stubits

In an email to the Washington Times NHL spokeman John Dellapina says the NHL won't hand down any further punishment for Arron Asham for his post-fight gestures on Thursday night.

"While nobody liked the gestures, they simply did not violate the rules as currently written (Rule 75.2 (i) which calls for a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct for 'any identifiable player who uses obscene, profane or abusive language or gestures directed at any person,'"

In case you somehow missed it, Asham stepped up to challenge the Capitals' Jay Beagle to a fight after taking exception to a hit Beagle laid on the Penguins' Kris Letang. Despite never dropping his gloves in an NHL game before and Asham being a veteran of the tussel, Beagle obliged. Once Asham got his right hand free, it was two punches square to Beagle's face and a bloody mess on the ice.

What drew the ire of some, though, was Asham's arm waving and go to sleep sign with his hands. It didn't take long for him to realize the severity of the situation, however, and seemed almost immediately repentant. When Beagle was helped off the ice, Asham was seen tapping his stick against the glass from the penalty box showing his support.

He was further apologetic after the game, calling his own actions classless and uncalled for.

I'm glad that the NHL isn't going to throw any discipline Asham's way for this. I don't disagree that it was an ugly display from Asham, but his repentance seemed genuine to me. It was a heat-of-the-moment thing that was simply not sportsmanlike. Any additional punishment will come from the Capitals the next time the two teams meet. That's old time hockey.

Photo: Getty Images

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