Fighting: it's part of the game

Jason Gregor
January 16 2009 07:00AM

As the Nation woke this morning, many of you were still smarting from the 5-1 loss in Minny. Once again, after a surprising win in Washington, the Oilers weren’t able to keep their momentum going.

Were you that surprised that they lost to the Wild and Backstrom, who absolutely owns the Oilers? Probably not, but your disappointment stemmed from not seeing a potential epic heavyweight battle between the Bogeyman and SmackIntyre. You could handle not seeing Brash v. Smack two nights earlier, because you were wiping the tear from your eye watching him celebrate his first NHL goal. But last night, you wanted it, and expected MacIntyre to exact some redemption for the Bogeyman crushing Hemsky, Reasoner and the 2007 Oilers.

But it didn’t happen. You clapped and were intrigued by the spirited Smid/Sheppard tilt, and then you were screaming at the TV after Souray demolished Weller with some crushing lefts. Hell, if it wasn’t for Souray’s KO you’d have had nothing to cheer for last night.

Of course winning a fight doesn’t mean as much as the two points, but it re-enforces why the NHL, or junior hockey for that matter, should never take fighting out of the game. Sports are a release from the daily grind, and they get you emotionally involved and ultimately entertained. While you don’t need to see a fight every game, don’t tell me you don’t get excited when the gloves hit the ice.

When the Oilers win, even if the game is boring, you still leave satisfied. And even a loss that has end-to-end action or big hits can be satisfying, but when Minnesota is the opposition the only excitement you hope for is a monumental tussle amongst the big men.

Some pacifists will argue that a meaningless fight between two heavyweights who don’t play much is pointless. But I say hogwash. In boxing and now MMA, the anticipation of a great bout is almost as exciting as the fight itself. Most of us love it because we know deep down we could never do it. You don’t cheer for someone to get hurt, but you want to see a KO. Is it barbaric? No, it’s an adrenaline rush and entertainment.

Not seeing Smack and Bogey doff the gloves last night was a disappointment for many fans, and while it didn’t hurt you as much as the loss, it left you wanting more.

Many, including myself, wonder if the decision by the OHL to suspend players who willingly take their helmets off before a fight, is another step in trying to take fighting out of the game, or just a knee jerk reaction to the horrible Don Sanderson tragedy.

There are fair arguments for both sides when it comes to not allowing players to take their helmets off before a fight. I’m a proponent of fighting and even I can see why David Branch, Commissioner of the OHL, felt it necessary to act swiftly. Sometimes players take their helmets off more for the showboating aspect rather than the protecting-their-knuckles defence. I don’t agree with his decision and I think it was knee-jerk reaction, but I understand he has pressure to try and protect the players in his league.

If Sanderson hadn’t passed away would the OHL have implemented this rule? No chance. And that’s what is disappointing. We can’t change rules because of one incident, or soon we will be changing every fabric of our beloved game.

I don’t believe the NHL will follow suit, and I doubt they will ever purposely take fighting out of the game. As much as I would hate to see it go, if in 20 years teams don’t employ designated tough guys, then I will accept that the game has evolved past that. I will take evolution over a rule change. Hockey fans don’t want to be hit over the head with a fighting ban, but like the past 20 years, if fighting continues to decline slowly at least the league won’t be alienating their true fans.

One of the best aspects of fighting is the unpredictability of it. It can happen at any moment, by any player and normally it is over in under a minute. It’s a quick jolt of energy for the participants, their teammates and the fans. It can change the momentum of the game, or send a message to the opposition and it almost always adds energy to the game.

You don’t need designated heavyweights to have exciting fights. Many of you, especially Amber, gushed openly as Souray jack hammered Weller last night. While it wasn’t the match-up you were anticipating or hoping for, it did quench your appetite.

While you ride the inevitable rollercoaster that comes from being an Oiler fan, you can count the days until the next potential Bogeyman v. Smack battle. It’s 14 days boys and girls: Jan. 30 at Rexall.

This really sucks

Just as I was getting over not seeing #24 and #33 drop the gloves, I came across the preview for Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, and immediately thoughts of Kate Beckinsale in that black suit came rushing to my brain. I didn’t catch the release date, because thoughts of Selene were almost too much for me to bare, so I googled Underworld 3 to find out when I could once again see the sexiest character in movie history.

If you thought not seeing the big bout last night was disappointing, imagine my horror when I realized that Selene will not be back to battle the Lycans. Ok, sure she will make some lame cameo appearance but that’s like knowing Boogaard and MacIntyre are on the bench, though you'll will never see them on the ice.

Rhona Mitro is okay, but compared to the stunning Beckinsale she just doesn’t cut it. She can’t pull off the black suit, and there is no way I will watch part three. Beckinsale will never revive her role; but at least there is a chance you might see some fireworks on Jan. 30.

Damn expectations. First a non-fight and now no Kate, the good news is that it can’t possibly get worse today.

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 BUCK75
January 16 2009, 07:25AM
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I like the conversation you had with Coach Rocky Thompson yesterday. Basically in a nutshell for those of you who didn't hear it he said that he would just rip the helmet off anyhowby ripping the earstraps off the helmet. Or he suggested that the players start using clip on visors, take the visor off before the fight - helmet stays on.

I myself like the fisticuffs - especially in agame where your team is getting seriously outplayed. It gives the fans some satisfation. I would think it does something for the next game against the team as well.

An unfortunate situation in Ontario has caused the OHL to be backed into a corner in my opinion. Why have a rule if people are still going to have a possiblity of not having a helmet on during a fight? Hopefully it gets reviewed during the off season & fixed.

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#2 volfman
January 16 2009, 07:40AM
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Is there any chance that big smack is not fighting due to mac-t not letting him. Or is it just that his hand's not quite healed.

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#3 Travis Dakin
January 16 2009, 07:49AM
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The best part of waking up today was turning on the highlights and watching that beat down again. Oh my god Souray... I... I Love you.

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#4 The Oil Crusher
January 16 2009, 07:49AM
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I believe Macintyre is a little nervous and its good we have Souray to back up the team ............

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#5 Chris
January 16 2009, 08:09AM
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Jan 30th is fight night. Anyone notice how well behaved Boogard was last night? He must be just a little scared of Big Mac... The game was in Minnesota and Boogard chose not to risk his rep on his own turf. I'm positive MacIntyre will force the Boogy Man to step up on RX1 ice.

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#6 B.C.B.
January 16 2009, 08:14AM
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SMac played two shifts last night, and for a total of 1:13 TOI. Both Shifts where in the first period. MacT could not play a defensive liability against the Wild if he wasn't winning. Also he didn't have last change so Lemaire would have to put the Boogyman against SMac: opposed to having MacT not want SMac to fight, I think it is Lemaire not want Boogyman to fight and possible spark the Oilers.

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#7 Jeff
January 16 2009, 08:29AM
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I was hoping for, but honestly not expecting a Boogaard-MacIntyre throwdown last night. I know SMac's healthy, but I still question whether he's take-a-Boogaard-shot-to-the-face healthy. Just ask Todd Fedoruk's orbital bone.

Second straight KO for Shelly... I love it, but get nervous every time I see it.

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#8 Amber
January 16 2009, 08:40AM
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I don't know if I "gushed openly". I can't condone fighting. I think it's unnecessary, barbaric...oh who am I kidding...It was hot

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#9 Travis Dakin
January 16 2009, 08:46AM
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Amber wrote:

I don’t know if I “gushed openly”. I can’t condone fighting. I think it’s unnecessary, barbaric…oh who am I kidding…It was hot

I could hear you squeeling like a school girl all the way up here in Fort Mac. Or maybe that was just my echo.

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#10 Rick
January 16 2009, 08:56AM
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Hey Jason I thought one of the callers to your show last night had an interesting point about the take down moves that seem to be the new rage in the NHL right now.

I don't know how you would define a penalty for such a thing but if you get a chance you should take a peak at the Carcillo vs Davison fight in Vancouver last night. It's exhibit #1 in making a case for such a penalty.

As for the re-newed debate on fighting and helmets, it's tough to argue with what David Branch did considering that a significant percentage of the players in his league are under the age of 18. Many of these guys are bigger and stronger than the average man but they are still minors and deserve being protected as such.

The rub occurs when you try and project what ramifications there may be down the road. Fighting in the NHL should not be restricted any further and if any thing the instigator should be revoked so the players have a bigger say in how justice can be dolled out. These are all adults that can take responsibility for their own decisions.

That said, what happens 6 years down the road when the next group of kids come up and none of them can handle themselves in that regard because they have never honed that "skill" while coming up the ranks. The effects of David Branch today may very well contribute to eliminate fighting in the NHL down the road.

When the Euro's first started coming over in waves the big out cry was that the stick work and diving and lack of respect was hurting our game because learned to play in leagues that didn't allow for that kind of accountability. Today it has become such common part of how teh NHL game is played the crying has died down but I think remembering today how frustrating it was back then would be worth it if they are looking to curb fighting further.

It was the same argument that mandating visors vs increased stick work fostered or better protection with plastic elbow and shoulder pads vs injuries due to hitting. Both cases of good intentions having negative consequences.

One final thought on my rambling post, it was truly a tragedy what happened to Sanderson but I think the argument against fighting in hockey should have been directed to fighting in non-professional leagues. My understanding is that Sanderson was playing in a senior league which is only a stones throw from beer league. Playing hockey for recreation should be a no brainer in terms of no fighting. When you get to the professional ranks you are not only dealing with people that understand the nuances or have the players better capable of protecting themselves but there are also more safe guards in place in terms of professional referees, training staff and facilities to manage injuries. I don't understand why the level he was playing in isn't a bigger part of the debate.

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#11 Ender the Dragon
January 16 2009, 09:01AM
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Jeff wrote:

know SMac’s healthy, but I still question whether he’s take-a-Boogaard-shot-to-the-face healthy.

100% ditto. I was actually glad that Smac stayed MIA against the Brasher and the Boogeyman. I know he's back, but healing is not an on/off thing. I'd prefer SMac's face to be back up to titanium-durable before he starts testing it against the Boogeyman's knuckles. He's got 5 more opportunities to do that this season, and if he'd rushed it last night, I fear that might have been his only crack at it.

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#12 Chad
January 16 2009, 09:03AM
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Does Souray ever lose in a fight?

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#13 Steele
January 16 2009, 09:57AM
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...Me Likey Kate B - Selene.

....Me Likey Gushy Amber.

~Steele

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#14 doritogrande
January 16 2009, 09:58AM
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Agreed on the lack of Beckinsale, but I'll still watch the movie because of the cinematography. This crew really knows how to pull off a dark movie. I am a fan of the no Scott Speedman however, guy was just stand in for the Selene eye candy.

On the Souray fight, the only thing that would have impressed me more would have been if when Sheldon pushed Ethan aside he would have ripped the C off that cretin's shoulder. We need a new captain next year. And for god's sake not another 4th liner.

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#15 Gord
January 16 2009, 10:00AM
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After the unfortunate death of Don Sanderson, something does have to be done. If another person were to die from a fight in a hockey game, the league in which they would would be found negligent. After someone is killed from an incident, such as Sanderson was, and no measures were put into place to protect a player in a similar situation from a tragic result, the league will be successfully sued.

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#16 Colin
January 16 2009, 10:25AM
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Steele wrote:

….Me Likey Gushy Amber. ~Steele

That sounds like an internet video........

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#17 Colin
January 16 2009, 10:27AM
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doritogrande wrote:

On the Souray fight, the only thing that would have impressed me more would have been if when Sheldon pushed Ethan aside he would have ripped the C off that cretin’s shoulder. We need a new captain next year. And for god’s sake not another 4th liner.

I would have messed my pants (in the goodway) if he had taken the C like that. Awesome.

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#18 Ender the Dragon
January 16 2009, 10:27AM
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Gord wrote:

After someone is killed from an incident, such as Sanderson was, and no measures were put into place to protect a player in a similar situation from a tragic result, the league will be successfully sued.

I see a lot of signed liability waivers in the future.

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#19 shakey
January 16 2009, 10:27AM
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@ Rick: I saw the fight in the Van/Phx game and I said the same thing, the fight was fine but the take down was dirty. It was obvious what Davidson was trying to do and that was twist Carcillo and slam him into the ice. His head hit pretty hard and I'm surprised he didn't get really hurt. That is an issue hockey needs to look at. Players make the decision to fight and possibly take a punch to the face but I don't think they go in expecting a wrestling move take down driving the back of their head to the ice. Several years ago a hockey player in Edmonton died while playing rec league hockey. He slid to block a shot and it hit him in the back of the head or neck. It was a horrible accident but no one suggested taking shooting the puck or blocking shots out of the game. You have frozen rubber pucks whipping past heads at 90 to 100 mph, every player is wearing razor sharp blades and carrying a stick, there are risks when you play the game but players accept that. Stop listening to bleeding hearts like Jim Kelly at Sportsnet or some poll of people that may or may not watch hockey, ask the players and people involved with the game what they think of fighting.

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#20 Jason Gregor
January 16 2009, 10:48AM
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Gord wrote:

After the unfortunate death of Don Sanderson, something does have to be done. If another person were to die from a fight in a hockey game, the league in which they would would be found negligent. After someone is killed from an incident, such as Sanderson was, and no measures were put into place to protect a player in a similar situation from a tragic result, the league will be successfully sued.

Gord, another amateur midget player died last week after getting hit, and no one was sued. In a league where fighting is allowed, 5 min penalty and you come back, what would be the legal action? Sanderson wasn't in the OHL league, so why should they have to adhere to a league that doesn't involve them. The "they will sue if we don't implement new rule" is a weak argument that has no prove.

Look at boxing, how many fighters have died in the ring? You don't see lawsuits in boxing, so where is your prove that it would happen. I think the precedent has been set in fact, so it is highly doubtful there would be a successful lawsuit.

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#21 jeanshorts
January 16 2009, 11:14AM
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Not only is Rhona Mitra the poor mans Kate Beckinsale, she is also a diva beotch to the highest degree.

Rick wrote:

I don’t know how you would define a penalty for such a thing but if you get a chance you should take a peak at the Carcillo vs Davison fight in Vancouver last night. It’s exhibit #1 in making a case for such a penalty.

For the last 5 seasons, maybe even 10 or more, it seems like guys figure whoever goes down first is the loser of the fight, so we're seeing more and more instances of a guy not getting any punches in, but landing a crazy hard take down *cough Stortini cough* just to save face. I completely agree there should be a penalty if a player clearly goes for a body slam take down, because it's getting pretty ridiculous.

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#22 Mike
January 16 2009, 11:17AM
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Here's the question in my mind - would we still be saying the same things this week if Stortini would have been in a coma after his last fight?

The knee ended up being the more severe injury, but the way he got twisted around and bounced his head off the ice is queasy to watch.

I think the OHL rules are the right idea - if a fight is truly heat of the moment, a player isn't going to be worried about a one-game suspension. If it's some prearranged scrap, the helmets will stay on and nobody risks getting killed for the sake of showboating.

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#23 Rick
January 16 2009, 11:25AM
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Mike wrote:

Here’s the question in my mind - would we still be saying the same things this week if Stortini would have been in a coma after his last fight?

Stortini's helmet never came off, what would the argument have been? Players need to wear three layers of bubble wrap before heading out on the ice?

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#24 jeanshorts
January 16 2009, 11:33AM
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Mike wrote:

the helmets will stay on and nobody risks getting killed for the sake of showboating.

I think this is where a lot of people are not understanding the players point of view. Have you ever punched a 1/8th inch thick piece of plexiglass, over and over again? It will muff your hand right up. A friend of JSBM almost lost the tip of his nose due to his visor slicing up his face.

Granted a lot of the time it does look like the players are showboating, especially when they take all their equipment off and circle each other for a good 20 seconds before actually fighting. But in reality it's more of a safety thing than anything. As contridictory as that sounds, guys would rather be able to hold their stick after, then worry about cracking their skull on the ice.

This whole thing seems like a knee jerk reaction, and if Don Sanderson had not have died, no one would be talking about it. How many NHL players have died as a result of car/motorcycle crashes? Are we going to ban those now too? Guys are getting absolutely destroyed left and right from crashing into the end boards. Should be put big foam pads at the end to prevent that?

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#25 Milli
January 16 2009, 11:33AM
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I was so pissed at CracT for icing gags and cogs and some other midget at the end of the game. Hey MacT, is that how we played in the 80's? Or are you just a total pansy now? Whadda a discrace.

SOURAY FOR MAYOR, PREMIER, PRIME MINISTER AND PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!!

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#26 Mike
January 16 2009, 11:45AM
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Milli wrote:

I was so pissed at CracT for icing gags and cogs and some other midget at the end of the game. Hey MacT, is that how we played in the 80’s? Or are you just a total pansy now? Whadda a discrace. SOURAY FOR MAYOR, PREMIER, PRIME MINISTER AND PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!!!

Instigator penalty in the final 5 minutes = one game suspension.

Maybe we don't need Mac tonight but getting Souray or Staios suspended isn't going to help us any.

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#27 Mike
January 16 2009, 11:48AM
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Rick wrote:

Stortini’s helmet never came off, what would the argument have been? Players need to wear three layers of bubble wrap before heading out on the ice?

I should have been more clear - had his helmet come off and he got his brains scrambled, would we be so mad about a rule saying players need to keep their helmets on?

Obviously it's pure speculation, but who knows if keeping the helmet on kept him from a more severe injury to his head?

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#28 Jason Gregor
January 16 2009, 12:30PM
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Mike wrote:

I should have been more clear - had his helmet come off and he got his brains scrambled, would we be so mad about a rule saying players need to keep their helmets on?

That is a big WHAT IF Mike? One person has died or even gone into a coma in 100 years of any level of hockey regarding a fight. They are grown professionals, why can't they make the choice themselves? Look at how many fights there were in the league last night, only Smid/Sheppard willingly took their helmets off. Carcillo and Davison kept theirs on and they came off instantly during the fight. So they proof is there that forcing them to keep their helmets on doesn't make it any safer. The ear piece to rip a guys helmet off can be removed easily, so that really isn't making it safer.

It was a freak accident and the stats show it. Why the need for a change, other than just making change for the sake of it!

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#29 Jason Gregor
January 16 2009, 12:32PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

So they proof is there that forcing them to keep their helmets on doesn’t make it any safer.

The proof is there..

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#30 Mike
January 16 2009, 12:42PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

It was a freak accident and the stats show it. Why the need for a change, other than just making change for the sake of it!

For the same reason the OHL now requires neck protectors, or that referees now have to wear helmets - even if the chance of injury is low, the remedy doesn't hurt the game so there's no reason to avoid it.

And that's the basic legal test for negligence - you can choose to ignore a low-risk problem if the cost to fix it outweighs any benefit. But if there's a low cost solution to try and decrease the risk, and you choose to ignore the solution, you'll be liable if that fluke accident occurs.

But I also don't think that a rule like the OHL's will hurt the "core" game of hockey. Forcing SMac and Boogard to decide if it's really worth a busted hand or a one-game suspension to fight in a pre-arranged brawl doesn't make me worry about a decreased quality of hockey.

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#31 Mike
January 16 2009, 12:57PM
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Going back to the legal issue - from the league's perspective, I don't see how this is something they will want to ignore.

If a player has his helmet torn off in a fight, and then ends up crippled or dead from cracking his head, the first thing a lawyer is going to do is sue the league for not doing anything to prevent it. And the league is going to have an uphill battle to argue why they were justified in not implementing some sort of rule, especially if the OHL policy is well-received.

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#32 Jonathan Willis
January 16 2009, 01:23PM
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Maybe we don’t need Mac tonight but getting Souray or Staios suspended isn’t going to help us any.

I'd be fine if it were Moreau ;)

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#33 Jack Bauer
January 16 2009, 01:24PM
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I think Rick makes a great point about 5 or 6 years down the road, will these kids be able to handle themselves. Well the OHL has this no headshot rule. The consequence of that is guys like Brandon Sutter who go through the neutral zone with their head down cause theyve grown up knowing no one can touch them. But when they get to the NHL they have this instinct of not keeping their head up, and they get knocked out. Eric Lindros is a product of this as well.

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#34 Mike
January 16 2009, 01:29PM
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Jack Bauer wrote:

...they have this instinct of not keeping their head up, and they get knocked out. Eric Lindros is a product of this as well.

Eric Lindros travelled through time and played junior hockey after 2005?

The OHL headshot rule is only a few years old. If anything, Lindros is proof that the allowing headshots from a young age does nothing to produce NHLers who know how to keep their heads up.

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#35 Rick
January 16 2009, 01:32PM
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Mike wrote:

But I also don’t think that a rule like the OHL’s will hurt the “core” game of hockey.

Do we know that as a fact? I don't think we do.

If leagues like the OHL makes it so tough to fight that it becomes a thing of the past all together then the accountability factor on the ice becomes an issue.

I agree that the pre-staged fights as they are today don't necessarily do much in terms of accountability but there are cases where it is still applied.

Going back to the visor argument that was had 10 years ago, the thought was that not wearing a visor meant that guys needed to be more aware of where their sticks were. Sure enough high sticking soon after seemed to become more of an issue to the point where the 4 minute minor or 5 minute major for drawing blood was instituted.

Mike wrote:

Forcing SMac and Boogard to decide if it’s really worth a busted hand or a one-game suspension to fight in a pre-arranged brawl doesn’t make me worry about a decreased quality of hockey.

That is fair but in 6 years will guys like Boogard and Macintyre even be around or available? If the end result is no fighting in leagues like the OHL then there are no tough guys coming up through the ranks because there is no use for them at that level.

Pre-staged or not does having a guy like Macintyre or Boogard even just on the bench keep more guys on the ice respectful of their opposition? Or more importantly the times when these guys do fight for the right reasons.

I guess my point is that Branch's approach may not be fully felt until there is a changing of the guard in the NHL and all there is left is the new breed of hockey player.

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#36 Jason Gregor
January 16 2009, 01:33PM
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Jack Bauer wrote:

Well the OHL has this no headshot rule. The consequence of that is guys like Brandon Sutter who go through the neutral zone with their head down cause theyve grown up knowing no one can touch them

Brandon Sutter played in the WHL, where they have no such rule.

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#37 APE
January 16 2009, 01:35PM
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Just an FYI but alot of players take off their helmets not to show boat, but so that they don't destroy their hands on the visors they wear.

Honestly, I think the people that are the most upset are the people that don't play the game. Do you think that when two guys are about to fight they give it a seconds thought that they might die if they take off their helmets? No. And that is because quite honestly it barely ever happens. How many fights do you think there are in 1 day in every league across Canada? And how many deaths are there? I don't know the specific stats but I'm willing to guess that the ratio of deaths to games is ridiculously low. All this talk and wanting to change everything is just another sign of the society we live in today. Nothing...NOTHING can be perfect. Deal with it.

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#38 Jonathan Willis
January 16 2009, 01:36PM
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Jack Bauer wrote:

Well the OHL has this no headshot rule. The consequence of that is guys like Brandon Sutter who go through the neutral zone with their head down cause theyve grown up knowing no one can touch them.

The other consequence of this rule is that the 15-to-20 junior teammates of Sutter who will never play in the NHL are guarded against that particular injury.

I do think there needs to be a difference between the amount of legislation the OHL implements as compared to the amount the NHL implements. NHL'ers are a) adults and b) compensated handsomely for their play. The majority of junior players are neither.

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#39 Jonathan Willis
January 16 2009, 01:37PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

Brandon Sutter played in the WHL, where they have no such rule.

Nice catch, and obvious in retrospect (all the Sutters are out west).

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#40 Travis Dakin
January 16 2009, 01:40PM
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Mike wrote:

The OHL headshot rule is only a few years old. If anything, Lindros is proof that the allowing headshots from a young age does nothing to produce NHLers who know how to keep their heads up.

Lindros was 6'5 220lbs as a 15 year old playing in junior. He didn't really have to worry about head shots too much.

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#41 Mike
January 16 2009, 01:40PM
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Rick wrote:

If leagues like the OHL makes it so tough to fight that it becomes a thing of the past all together then the accountability factor on the ice becomes an issue. ...but in 6 years will guys like Boogard and Macintyre even be around or available? If the end result is no fighting in leagues like the OHL then there are no tough guys coming up through the ranks because there is no use for them at that level.

Accountability has been an issue since the instigator, but it's not like the real top-tier heavyweights are ever grabbing shitheads like Matt Cooke and beating the tar out of them.

If accountability comes from guys like Souray, I would be just fine with that. A guy who can handle himself, actually play hockey, and doesn't care if you wear a helmet or not because he'll one-punch you if you get him riled.

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#42 Travis Dakin
January 16 2009, 01:46PM
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Mike wrote:

If accountability comes from guys like Souray, I would be just fine with that. A guy who can handle himself, actually play hockey, and doesn’t care if you wear a helmet or not because he’ll one-punch you if you get him riled

Thanks for bringing that up again. Wasn't that awesome? Isn't he awesome?

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#43 Jonathan Willis
January 16 2009, 01:47PM
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To elaborate a bit:

Junior leagues across Canada need legislation to protect the health of their players. Let's consider two scenarios:

1) A 17-year old junior player smacks his head on the ice, and suffers a career-ending injury.

2) A 27-year old career enforcer smacks his head on the ice, and suffers a career-ending injury.

The career enforcer goes on IR, and continues to be paid his professional paycheque for the rest of his contract. He's fairly messed up, but he's an adult, and he probably has some money put away that he can use to get some form of education. He may have a job in broadcasting or elsewhere in hockey, and even if he doesn't he can probably parlay that education into a decent job.

The junior player flushes away his future hockey career, and now is plagued by post-concussion syndrome, or the like, as he tries to figure out what to do instead. Maybe he has some education money put away by his CHL team; off the top of my head I'm not entirely sure how that works.

The point is that when you're a league governor writing rules, it makes a world of difference if the people who have to follow them are paid, adult professionals, or kids who may never make a living from the game.

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#44 Gerry
January 16 2009, 01:49PM
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Am I missing something? MacT said he thought the Oil did a lot of things right last night and worked hard....they lost 5-1. The other night he said it was a great team win over Washington and the Oiler website says we "crushed" the Caps. We got outshot 36-23 and 19-9 in the first period. If Theodore hadn't stunk the joint out we would have lost that one too. This team has changed the meaning of "Oiler Hockey" to be "terminal mediocrity".

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#45 Rick
January 16 2009, 01:50PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

I do think there needs to be a difference between the amount of legislation the OHL implements as compared to the amount the NHL implements. NHL’ers are a) adults and b) compensated handsomely for their play. The majority of junior players are neither.

Yeah and that is what makes the debate so difficult.

What Branch did is probably appropriate (actually banning it all together is probably the most appropriate and less hypocritical if you were to use the safety argument) considering the players he is governing over.

They are kids and the vast majority won't have pro-hockey careers when they graduate from the league.

It's just too bad that because it is where the best pro players eventually do come from it will no doubt impact the overall game at the professional level as well.

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#46 Mike
January 16 2009, 01:52PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The point is that when you’re a league governor writing rules, it makes a world of difference if the people who have to follow them are paid, adult professionals, or kids who may never make a living from the game.

Absolutely right, Jonathan. But I still wonder if the paid adult professional has an argument to be made that "hey, I never consented to having my helmet torn off in a fight, and the league knew it could happen but doesn't punish it".

It's essentially the same argument that Steve Moore is making - in contact sports there's obviously some risks you have consented to, but is this one of them? Or is it above and beyond what is necessary to play pro hockey?

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#47 Rick
January 16 2009, 01:54PM
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Mike wrote:

Accountability has been an issue since the instigator, but it’s not like the real top-tier heavyweights are ever grabbing shitheads like Matt Cooke and beating the tar out of them.

I don't buy the argument that because there is less accountability today then there was in years past that lessening it even more will make no difference.

I think we just have differing positions on this one and agree to disagree.

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#48 jeanshorts
January 16 2009, 03:33PM
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Gerry wrote:

“terminal mediocrity”.

Keeanu was so badass in that!

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#49 kingsblade
January 17 2009, 12:27PM
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@Mike

Before plying us all with your first year law school torts class lessons why don't you try looking into existing law before wildly speculating. Your line of thinking ignores the fact that professional sports leagues have exceptions made and allowances for the fact that they to govern conduct within their own league to a substantial extent. You are trying to apply tests where they don't apply.

For example - your idea that a player would not have consented to having his helmet removed doesn't apply because it is a risk taken when playing hockey and would fall under the leagues self governance.

Hell, if you went by the very basic first year tort law you apparently wish to impose, every injury would result in league liability because a person cannot by law consent to bodily harm.

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#50 Travis Dakin
January 17 2009, 08:41PM
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@ kingsblade:

Neeeeerrrrrrdddd! ha

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