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Morning Line Part 2

It is no longer enough to blame the continued existence of fighting on NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, the board of governors, or uneducated American hockey fans.

Truth is, we love the gore as much as the Americans. We are rapidly reaching the point where, if change isn’t wanted by the players and their agents – the latter a group that always seems to skate away from responsibility in these matters – the rest of us might as well stop worrying about the NHL players and focus on the children playing the sport.

If you don’t want to help yourself, boys, there’s nothing we can do for you.

-Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail where you can read more on the fighting topic.

added 9:38am, from Eric Duhatschek of the Globea and Mail,

Whenever it comes up at his annual news conference, commissioner Gary Bettman will cite statistics saying fights are down – and they are – as if that’s good enough. The NHL Players’ Association, meanwhile, is in the business of protecting the job security of all its members – and if you remember anything about last year’s lockout, a disproportionate number of smart-guy pugilists, including Parros and Kevin Westgarth (Princeton, class of 2007) were front and centre in labour negotiations.

Their voices count when policy is being formed.

The bottom line is this: Until the public outcry to toughen the rules becomes far greater than it is today, it will be hard to budge either side from the status quo.

In the meantime, they’ll continue to cross their fingers and hope that whenever a player smashes his face into the ice, as Parros did Tuesday, that he will eventually get up again. Surely it won’t require a fatality before common sense ultimately prevails.

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Comments

Navarath's avatar

why does there have to be blame at all?

Posted by Navarath on 10/03/13 at 10:31 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

The bottom line is this: Until the public outcry to toughen the rules becomes far greater than it is today, it will be hard to budge either side from the status quo.

In the meantime, they’ll continue to cross their fingers and hope that whenever a player smashes his face into the ice, as Parros did Tuesday, that he will eventually get up again. Surely it won’t require a fatality before common sense ultimately prevails.

I would be pretty shocked if fighting is still in the game 5 years from now.

It just doesn’t fit in this sport anymore for a number of reasons, both on the fan side and the player side.

Maybe I’m wrong, but it feels like the first few dominoes have already fallen.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 10/03/13 at 10:47 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

To be clear, when I say it will be out of the game in 5 years, I mean staged fights with 5-minute penalties.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 10/03/13 at 10:50 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

It is no longer enough to blame the continued existence of fighting on NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, the board of governors, or uneducated American hockey fans.

Some Canadians actually blamed fighting in the NHL on Americans???

Wow, the stupid meter just broke

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 10/03/13 at 10:57 AM ET

Ajax19's avatar

It was like most hockey fights a colossal bore and waste of time until Parros hit the deck.

Tell that to the 20,000 plus that were all on their feet cheering wildly.

I do think that within 5 years fighting will be banned in the sense that if you fight, you’re given a game misconduct.  There will be some additional rule about accumulating a certain number of “fighting game misconducts” leading to suspensions or some such.

I think that fighting does, in fact, make the game more entertaining.  Thinking back at various Red Wings games throughout my tenure as a fan, some of the biggest hyped regular season games were Probert v. Crowder II or Probert v. Domi II (or III or whatever it was), heck, fights were a key part of the best regular season game in NHL history:  March 26. 1997 Wings vs. Avs.

Posted by Ajax19 on 10/03/13 at 11:47 AM ET

Avatar

I’m curious if people actually think fighting makes hockey more dangerous.  That seems a bit silly to me.

The only people that fight with any degree of regularity are fighters.  All you do by removing fighting is putting players who would otherwise be playing hockey out of jobs.  Hockey, as a game, changes not one iota… with the possible exception of an increase in stickwork and other dangerous hits as a form of retaliation once fighting is removed.

In general, I get something of a kick out of people lecturing NHL players, or pro players of any kind really, what they should and should not be willing to do to their bodies in the name of their careers, knowing full well that if this exact same rationale was applied elsewhere (rhymes with shmabortion) ‘MY BODY MY CHOICE!” would be hurled at the attempted lecturer with sufficient venom to stun a King Cobra.

For instance, Scott Parker (a nothing player but a good fighter) made nearly 5 million dollars over his NHL career… and he sucked at hockey.  Why shouldn’t players be allowed to decide for themselves if playing hockey and making millions is worth getting into fights, compared to being a mortgage broker making 50k a year?

It’s not like NHL players are chained to an oar and only released to go fight, thence to be chained once more.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/03/13 at 11:48 AM ET

Mandingo's avatar

In general, I get something of a kick out of people lecturing NHL players, or pro players of any kind really, what they should and should not be willing to do to their bodies in the name of their careers, knowing full well that if this exact same rationale was applied elsewhere (rhymes with shmabortion) ‘MY BODY MY CHOICE!” would be hurled at the attempted lecturer with sufficient venom to stun a King Cobra.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/03/13 at 11:48 AM ET

I don’t want it out of the game because I want to tell the players what’s good for them, I want it out of the game because it’s incredibly f*cking boring, and takes away from the overall skill level in the game. If I want to watch fights, I’ll watch boxing or UFC.

But you’re right, though. Fighting in hockey is just like abortion.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 10/03/13 at 11:57 AM ET

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Some Canadians actually blamed fighting in the NHL on Americans???

I’ve never heard anyone outside of the media who does.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything from someone in Canadian media who has ever done that outside of this article.

Most Canadians I know would be spitting nails if the NHL ever did anything serious to remove fighting from hockey.

I do think that within 5 years fighting will be banned in the sense that if you fight, you’re given a game misconduct.

I 100% disagree.  If they wanted to remove fighting from the game they could do it easily but there are way too many players, coaches, team executives, media types and fans who want fighting in hockey.

Posted by Garth on 10/03/13 at 12:20 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

Some Canadians actually blamed fighting in the NHL on Americans???
Wow, the stupid meter just broke
Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 10/03/13 at 10:57 AM ET

My SiL’s partner blames the violence in hockey on Americans in the game, completely disregarding that in the original 6 days the league was 97% Canadian (in 66-67 there were only 3 Americans in the NHL), that Gordie Howe was Canadian, and that he was known for the Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

rolleyes

 

 

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 10/03/13 at 12:39 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

My SiL is Canadian.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 10/03/13 at 12:40 PM ET

Avatar

I want it out of the game because it’s incredibly f*cking boring, and takes away from the overall skill level in the game.

That’s most likely a distinctly minority opinion, though, especially the first part.  The second part is fairly meaningless too, though.  What we’re talking about there is the 13th forward on a roster, which even in the best case scenario isn;t going to have a real impact on the skill level of a game.

If I want to watch fights, I’ll watch boxing or UFC.

That you have compartmentalized your viewing expectations is your own standard, of course.  There are others, and I would presume those others would approach a significant majority, who watch a sport for more than one specific reason.

Seriously, if you wanted to watch better skaters, watch figure skating.  Faster?  Speedskating.  Better fights?  UFC.  Scoring?  The NBA.  Physical contact?  The NFL.

The NHL as a sport doesn’t do any particular thing better than it could be found in other outlets.  It does, however, the best job in professional sports in combining a great number of specialties into one fairly seamless product.

And fighting is a part of that.

But you’re right, though. Fighting in hockey is just like abortion.

Don’t be intentionally obtuse.  What players choose to do to their bodies with regards to their profession is very similar to the argument that abortion should be/is legal because what women choose to do to their bodies is sacrosanct.

Same argument.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/03/13 at 01:26 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

They can’t just out right ban fighting; it is too entrenched. In my opinion, the league officials would love to get rid of it. So for fighting (like the abortion wars) it’s death by a thousand cuts.

First, it was the instigator rule; after implementation fighting was reduced. Next up was curbing staged fights off of face offs (46.10); fighting continued to decline. Now, players can’t remove their helmets (or the opponents helmet) during fights.

The league will continue to come up with rules that marginalize fighting in the interest of player safety until, in a few years, the number of fights will be miniscule and then they can ban it with nary a whimper.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 10/03/13 at 01:46 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

The only people that fight with any degree of regularity are fighters.  All you do by removing fighting is putting players who would otherwise be playing hockey out of jobs.

So now the cheerleader for ownership during the lockout cares about out of work players?

Hockey, as a game, changes not one iota… with the possible exception of an increase in stickwork and other dangerous hits as a form of retaliation once fighting is removed.

Every other hockey league in the world disallows fighting and manages to avoid rampant vigilantism.  Never mind that every other non-pugilisitc sport has no fighting rules and doesn’t have a problem. 

In general, I get something of a kick out of people lecturing NHL players, or pro players of any kind really, what they should and should not be willing to do to their bodies in the name of their careers, knowing full well that if this exact same rationale was applied elsewhere (rhymes with shmabortion) ‘MY BODY MY CHOICE!” would be hurled at the attempted lecturer with sufficient venom to stun a King Cobra.

Something of a kick?  I wonder what the smell of your own farts does for you. 

It’s a little ditty called informed consent and occupational hazard.  As the NFL found out, freedom to contract arguments aren’t enough to keep you free and clear of a class action lawsuit. 

Overlooking your callous comparison of abortion to hockey fighting… Why are you so frequently bringing politics into the discussion?

For instance, Scott Parker (a nothing player but a good fighter) made nearly 5 million dollars over his NHL career… and he sucked at hockey.  Why shouldn’t players be allowed to decide for themselves if playing hockey and making millions is worth getting into fights, compared to being a mortgage broker making 50k a year?

I wonder if, looking back, the Probert’s think it was all worth it?

It’s not like NHL players are chained to an oar and only released to go fight, thence to be chained once more.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/03/13 at 11:48 AM ET

Someone should go tell Colton Gillies that.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 10/03/13 at 01:47 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

I want it out of the game because it’s incredibly f*cking boring, and takes away from the overall skill level in the game. If I want to watch fights, I’ll watch boxing or UFC.

This.  I enjoyed having Brad May and Aaron Downey on the team for their personalities.  I’m not a fan of cheap applause, and the staged fights were a continual annoyance to me.  I’m glad there isn’t anyone in the Detroit line up who makes their living that way.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 10/03/13 at 01:49 PM ET

CaptainDennisPolonich's avatar

Because bare knuckle fight is illegal in so many states (perhaps provinces, too), look for the next rule to be an extra 2 or 5 for dropping the gloves. At that point, what’s left to ban?


With a hard salary cap and the high salaries, I don’t think the owners, GM and coaches will want thugs like Parros on the rosters much longer.

Posted by CaptainDennisPolonich from The Land of Fake Boobs and Real Nuts on 10/03/13 at 01:50 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Don’t be intentionally obtuse.

Who writes your material?  The self parody you pull off day to day would put Conan O’Brien to shame. 

What players choose to do to their bodies with regards to their profession is very similar to the argument that abortion should be/is legal because what women choose to do to their bodies is sacrosanct.

Same argument.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 10/03/13 at 01:26 PM ET

Well we know one thing, and it’s that you have little idea what intellectual ground women’s reproductive rights rest upon.  I don’t think fighting in the NHL has anything to with the 14th Amendment to the Constitution or reproductive autonomy.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 10/03/13 at 01:56 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Don’t be intentionally fatuous, Jeffrey…

The argument that other players will find ways to hurt each other like big babies because of “The Code” is a good one if you’re dumb enough to think that the “ban fighting” crowd doesn’t support the NHL committing to the kind of supplemental discipline it would take to prevent the code from living on in a stupidly evolved form.

The argument that the game wouldn’t change if you replaced worthless fighters with more-skilled hockey players is straight from the fever dreams of Pollyanna herself.

But then the argument changed to be “wouldn’t have *ENOUGH* of an impact”... because if something merely changes for the better instead of changing to become perfect, it’s not worth it.  Yeah, uh-huh.

The argument about how lots of people still enjoy fighting and the NHL won’t look to really eliminate it until it has a tangible effect on their bottom line?  Well… yeah that one’s true.

Fights still break out in the other major sports when somebody gets so angry that they don’t care what the punishment will be for doing it. People still try to do dirtbag things to hurt one another in other sports. 

Interestingly enough, the presence of fighting hasn’t prevented that second thing one little bit.  Matt Cooke didn’t stop outrageously dirtbagging every shift because his teammates told him they were tired of fighting in his place to or because he was afraid of getting punched to death by a guy against whom he’s eminently protected if he doesn’t want to fight against… Matt Cooke changed after a talking-to and a huge dose of supplemental discipline.

The culture change would take a little bit of getting used to… but people would and the game would never miss fighting.

We’re not there yet though.  The game is still run by guys who played in the 70s and 80s.  We have to wait for that generation to go away and be replaced by people with a different outlook.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/03/13 at 02:11 PM ET

perfection's avatar

I think CaptainDennisPolonich is spot on. They are clearly making small rule after small rule to gradually marginalize fighting. The staged fights and the one dimensional goonery are already becoming more and more rare.

I think it should be noted that as much as it’s a carryover from a past generation, the goon role has also changed dramatically. There are huge differences between the kind of staged fights we’ve seen the last couple decades and the more wild west mentality of the previous decades where a “goon” like Probie or McSorley was actually on the same line as Yzerman and Gretsky so they LITERALLY could physically protect them. Their role as police officer was not only (apparently) necessary, but it was on its face what it actually claimed to be. That’s a far cry from the goons sitting on the end of the bench for all but 4 min and methodically deciding when they will fight the guy sitting at the end of the other bench.

Just look at that Toronto/Buffalo incident. Everyone talked about “the code” being violated when Scott was put out against Kessel. But the irony is that the goon was basically invented to play on those lines so a Scott-type player would play on Kessel’ s wing precisely for that exact circumstance. Goons going after stars was definitely part of “the code” then.

But of course, its a testament to how much the game has in fact changed that the idea of putting a goon on a top 6 line is laughable. The game is TOO fast, TOO skilled an TOO cerebral (and goals and wins are just too valuable). So the game itself has already basically made the true goon who actually served a function pretty much obsolete.

I think that the sentimental attachment to them will fade and they will in fact be phased out of the game in the coming years. Fighting, as a raw, anger-fused explosion will probably stay for longer, as it is engrained in the culture to some degree. But, I think the death by 1000 cuts for fighting has actually been happening for a long time now. Concussions or not, fatalities or not, lawsuits or not… the writing is on the wall.

Posted by perfection from LaLaLand on 10/03/13 at 03:21 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 10/03/13 at 01:56 PM ET

Har Har Har Har.

To bad HiDH is like rubber and you are like glue. What bounces off him sticks to you.

  Yeah, uh-huh.

How’d you get that gif of HiHD’s Sammy motion?

Fights still break out in the other major sports when somebody gets so angry that they don’t care what the punishment will be for doing it.

To what rate? I feel like Hockey has consistently more fights per game than any other sport (other than MMA and boxing and other “fighting” sports that I don’t know about). Heck there is even a website devoted to all those fights. Even the fights that happen in the minors. It’s part of the culture of hockey for a reason. I’m just not sure that reason is completely justifiable anymore.

The culture change would take a little bit of getting used to

True.

replaced by people with a different outlook.

You mean Europeans?

TOO cerebral

Are you saying Goon’s are stupid?

I think that the sentimental attachment to them will fade and they will in fact be phased out of the game in the coming years.

Not if Don Cherry’s life is prolonged somehow.

 

 

Posted by howeandhowe on 10/03/13 at 04:12 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

To what rate? I feel like Hockey has consistently more fights per game than any other sport

Oh yeah, they’re much rarer in sports with meaningful deterrent penalties.  I’m just saying that even with meaningful deterrents, sometimes players would stop playing hockey to punch each other.

I’m ok with this.  I’m better with this than the system we have now where people go out to punch each other in order to stop hockey from being played.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 10/03/13 at 04:31 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Har Har Har Har.

I’m glad that you’ve defended your views with the dignity they deserve.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 10/03/13 at 09:49 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

Oh yeah, they’re much rarer in sports with meaningful deterrent penalties.  I’m just saying that even with meaningful deterrents, sometimes players would stop playing hockey to punch each other.

Fighting used to be very common in the NBA as well (70s).  It wasn’t quite as prevalent as in the NHL, nor considered as important to the sport, but it happened a lot.  Like Hockey, there was a time when NBA teams would keep a guy on the roster because he was tough.  Now it’s virtually unheard of.  This is certainly something that can happen and has happened in other sports in eras that weren’t nearly as conducive to quick change as the current internet-and-24-hour-news era we live in.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 10/03/13 at 10:02 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 10/03/13 at 09:49 PM ET

Sorry. Poor choice of words. Let’s try Heh Heh Heh Heh [more like a snicker]

Posted by howeandhowe on 10/04/13 at 01:42 AM ET

bezukov's avatar

Sorry. Poor choice of words. Let’s try Heh Heh Heh Heh [more like a snicker]

Posted by howeandhowe on 10/04/13 at 01:42 AM ET

I actually owe you an apology.  I looked right your user name and assumed it was HinHD.  My bad.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 10/04/13 at 08:51 AM ET

Avatar

Yeah, HiHD and I have the same awesome avatar. No worries.

Posted by howeandhowe on 10/04/13 at 02:26 PM 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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