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Brian Burke On Fighting

from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,

Burke, who’s been mostly silent since pledging to remain in the background as the chief hockey executive of the Calgary Flames, had no problem Thursday arguing the need for fighting in hockey as a purely practical matter.

Whichever end of the P.C. spectrum you may favour, what Burke said in a telephone interview from Toronto is pretty much undeniable.

“What cracks me up is, the disarmament treaty is all in the East,” he said. “I don’t understand it, because you get to the (L.A. Kings-New York Rangers) finals, and what is the one thing that leaped out at you? The Rangers were too small.

“In the West … I mean, we’re going into St. Louis tomorrow. Big, ugly team. You play Anaheim, they’ve always been big and ugly, now they’ve added Kesler, who’s not big and ugly but he’s a grumpy, hostile player. Then you go up to San Jose, they’re historically one of the biggest teams in the league … I said this in a speech the other night: size and toughness, they’re not optional in the West.”

The movement to eliminate fighting, Burke says, is coming from outside the game, not inside.

“The amount of fighting has been significantly reduced, that’s a good thing. We don’t have bench-clearing brawls, we don’t have three-hour games,” he said.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Calgary Flames, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brian+burke

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Burke’s misremembering some history (Detroit had Probert in its heyday?  His last year in Detroit was 1994) but despite his colorful language he’s not saying anything too different from most people.

1)  It’s a good thing fighting has declined;
2)  There’s still a place for toughness and size;
3)  Your tough guys have to be able to play—the era of the 2-minute enforcer is over.

He’s a bit more strident on (2) than a guy like Ken Holland would be, but those are still mainstream positions.  What he won’t—and shouldn’t—admit publicly—is that Calgary in particular is loaded up with tough guys who aren’t very good because Calgary is a bottom-feeder. 

He can talk all he wants about LA’s size and toughness and how LA was too big and tough for the Rangers in the playoffs.  LA is a big tough team and the Rangers did look overwhelmed.  But LA had just 27 fighting majors last year and the Rangers had 25—both in the bottom third of the league.  Chicago had only 16 and they’d have overwhelmed the Rangers just as easily.  Fighting teams are big and tough but big and tough teams aren’t necessarily full of fighters.

That being said Detroit’s 7 fights all of last season is pretty ridiculously low.  The 2008 Cup team had 21 and that was 30th in the league.  You should get into more than 7 fights just by having guys finish their checks all season.  And it’s not as though we made up for it by outscoring the league, either.

Posted by captaineclectic on 10/11/14 at 10:51 AM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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