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On the Other Hand

Former NHL tough guy Ken Belanger disagrees with the Ontario Hockey League's decision to suspend players who exceed ten fights this season:

“I really think there will be an issue when a guy can’t stand up for a teammate,” Belanger said.

“If someone hammers a goalie, that’s OK now because, guess what, my excuse is I can’t do anything to the guy because I don’t want to get suspended.

“So now, is there accountability for anybody?”

In other words, what you might see now are some players thinking they can, perhaps, high-stick or do other dirty deeds with impunity — violations that would have earlier landed them a crack in the jaw.

“(The new rules are) not going to eliminate head shots and guys getting into fights, because, guess what, if your top-line players aren’t going to be getting into fights, they’re going to be running around, and now you’ve got your small guys who don’t have to worry about fighting,” he added.

“I just think it doesn’t put accountability in for someone not to respect their opponents because there’s no fear, there’s no repercussions.”

Denny Lambert says the new rule unfairly targets rough and tumble players:

“Hockey is not just based on all skilled players ... That’s why it’s so exciting,” said the five-foot, 11 Lambert, who racked up 1,391 penalty minutes in 487 regular season NHL games.

“If you want to watch the all-star game every day, I’d advise not to want that. It’s not a very exciting game, star players not touching each other and not playing with this emotion.”

It's not surprising to hear guys like Belanger and Lambert speaking out against the ten-fight rule.  And while it's tempting to dismiss their comments because of the type of players they were, it's easy to see how the new restriction could have some unintended consequences.

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Hank1974's avatar

That’s why it’s up to league officials, and not enforcers (in any league ) to crack down HARD on idiots who play dirty.

Matt Cooke had to fight Shawn Thornton after ending Savard’s career. Guess what? He was still an idiot afterward.
He had lots of fights after that incident and yet every time he was on the ice, he was a danger to someone’s health.
When he finally got a 17 game suspension, what happened? The dude was in the running for the Lady Byng.

Hard discipline from the top stops shenanigans, not fighting. Just ask idiots like Dan Carcillo, Cooke, Ott, etc.
All of them pay their dues and drop the mitts but all continue to be idiots on the ice.
Suspend them for 10+ games, and then they’ll get the picture.

Posted by Hank1974 on 09/27/12 at 10:10 AM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

I agree with Belanger ... its going to cause more harm than good.

More players are going to turn into ‘rats’ and cause more problems because they know they won’t have to back up their actions by fighting.

If you saw the Brian Burke interview when he was on the George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight program (CBC), he all but said he wished the league would get rid of the instigator penalty too.

He hates when smaller players get chippy but refuse to fight to back up their actions.  He also believes players should police themselves, not the league or the refs.

You could make the argument the OHL is a kids league and this rule will help promote hockey skills and weed out the ‘goon’ factor ... but at what cost ??

When one of those smaller players gets pissed and throws an elbow he normally wouldn’t and it ends up ruining a potential star player’s career and big money NHL contract, you’ll second guess the existance of this new rule.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 09/27/12 at 05:38 PM ET

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About Tasca's Take

Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.

Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.