Deep thoughts VI: the do-over

Robin Brownlee
February 10 2009 03:19PM

bearsfighting

It's better that the Edmonton Oilers got it right late than never getting it right at all when it comes to putting Rob Daum back behind the bench where he belongs instead of schlepping around as a pro scout.

That's what the Oilers did today when they announced Daum would be taking over from Jeff Truitt as coach of the AHL's Springfield Falcons. It's a step toward undoing a series of events that happened last summer, and should go in the books as the first substantial move made by new GM Steve Tambellini.

It's a saga that began with the decision to promote Kelly Buchberger to the Oilers as one of Craig MacTavish's assistants, while Daum was bumped off the staff after one year.

The story, as we've all been told, was Daum was inked to a one-year deal as an assistant coach and he knew going into the gig that was the case. When his contract ended, that opened the door for Buchberger.

I'm not sure that's as much reality as spin. I'd suggest Buchberger wanting a promotion and his relationship with MacTavish is what prompted Daum to be told, "Thanks for coming."

At the very least, Daum should've been made the head coach in Springfield at that point. The problem is, Truitt had already been promised he'd get the top job on the farm if Buchberger moved to the Oilers. Daum's consolation prize was a position as a pro scout.

Bench boss

With Springfield dead-last in the entire AHL with a record of 16-27-7, there can be little debate Truitt was a failure and that Daum has his work cut out for him. While the Falcons aren't brimming with talent, Truitt had enough to work with for the team to be better.

It says here Daum, who spent two years with the Houston Aeros and compiled a record of 77-67-16 after a decade as bench boss of the Alberta Golden Bears, where he compiled a 345-79-32 record and won three CIS University Cups, has the coaching chops to turn things around.

Whether Daum's credentials meant anything at the NHL level in terms of keeping him ahead of Buchberger were a matter of great debate here and elsewhere last summer, I'm guessing there's not much question in the mind of Tambellini that Daum will do a good job.

It's also worth mentioning president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, GM at the time Buchberger was promoted, is a staunch backer of Daum, having gained an appreciation for his knowledge of the game over the course of this season as they've worked together.

What's interesting about how this unfolded in the last several days is that Daum was actually sent to Springfield to assess the situation -- in essence, to report to Tambellini on what he saw. That had to be difficult as Daum and Truitt are friends.

In any case, Daum is behind the bench where he belongs. As far as the possibility of him showing up back on the Oilers coaching staff at some point, let me spare you much guesswork and speculation. The longer Daum coaches in the system and the closer Tambellini, the only fresh set of eyes in the organization, watches him work, the better the chances are he'll end up on the Oilers coaching staff.

Fact is, Daum should never have been removed.

Let's play patty-cake

Those braying that fighting in hockey should be banned must be applauding the latest report that backs their stance, one that'll turn the game of hockey into patty-cake if the do-gooders have their way.

From the Canadian Press: "A London anti-violence expert is applauding recommendations from a panel on concussions that call for the elimination of fighting from all levels of hockey.

Peter Jaffe said the report could be the tipping point that changes the culture of the game.

"It makes a lot of sense. It is hard to argue with physicians when they talk about the short and long-term dangers of getting punched in the head," Jaffe said. "I think there are enough parents, enough fans and enough coaches who are concerned about the impact."

Reporters, as you'd expect, were at the Oilers skate today at Millennium Place looking for reaction. Zack Stortini and Steve MacIntyre got scrummed. Words cannot describe the look on Stortini's face after the mob had moved on.

Getting punched in the head carries a risk? Really? Here's a news bulletin -- so does getting checked in the boards, dodging frozen rubber pucks and playing a game where people have sticks in their hands and blades on their feet. Let's get rid of all that, too, shall we?

This and that...

MacIntryre got several grenades tossed his way in the form of questions about facing Georges Laraque when the Montreal Canadiens come calling tomorrow.

Reporters, as you'd expect, were looking for a scintillating sound byte or an inflammatory quote, but MacIntyre played it straight and spoke his mind without saying anything stupid.

"Absolutely," said MacIntyre, asked if he's looking forward to facing Laraque and the Canadiens. "We've got to win the game, first and foremost, whether I'm playing or not playing.

"I can't go in thinking of that (fighting Laraque) necessarily. If it happens, it happens. I just have to react and do the best I can."

  • This isn't Laraque's first trip back to Edmonton, of course. In previous times back he's done nothing in terms of bully-boy stuff against his old team that could spark a showdown. In simple terms, Laraque's been classy, even though he might have been tempted to make a point with MacTavish in games he played here before they talked things out -- when the Oilers were trying to re-sign Laraque last summer before he took Montreal's offer.
  • So, will Laraque and MacIntyre go? Maybe yes, maybe no. Maybe they have a date already. Would it surprise you if I told you Laraque and MacIntyre exchange text messages?
  • Lubomir Visnovsky out for the season because he'll need surgery on his right shoulder to repair a torn labrum? Aside from weakening the blueline corps, that puts a big kink in any plans Tambellini has between now and the trade deadline March 4. If there's any place the Oilers have -- make that had -- depth was on the back end in terms of offensive defencemen. With Sheldon Souray, Visnovsky, Tom Gilbert and Denis Grebeshkov, Tambellini had bargaining chips. Now, not so much.
  • Fernando Pisani skated with the team today and will accompany them on the next road trip. Expect him back in the line-up before the Oilers return from their four-game swing.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#1 Jordan
February 10 2009, 03:24PM
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Robin: If Daum does well in springfield do you see him evenutally being the successor to mact?

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#2 misfit
February 10 2009, 03:26PM
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That last line regarding Pisani is the best news I've heard in a while (Oiler-wise, anyway). The point before it, however, is probably the worst Oilers news I've heard in a while.

Thanks for keeping me balanced, Robin.

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#3 Travis Dakin
February 10 2009, 03:28PM
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The wholes Visnovski thing and not having the bargaining chips... That is exactly the problem with waiting so long to do something. A trade should have been made 20 games ago.

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#4 Travis Dakin
February 10 2009, 03:28PM
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FMNF

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#5 Fiveandagame
February 10 2009, 03:34PM
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FMNF- Does this mean with Pisani back we can send Toby Reddox to help Robbie D turn the Falcons season around?

I sure hope so.

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#6 Robin B
February 10 2009, 03:39PM
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@ Fiveandagame: Pisani might be back as early as Saturday in Los Angeles . . . the Oilers are spending two days in Palm Springs for some "team bonding," which means golf and, likely, the annual rookie dinner.

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#7 jeanshorts
February 10 2009, 03:47PM
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Getting punched in the head carries a risk? Really? Here’s a news bulletin — so does getting checked in the boards, dodging frozen rubber pucks and playing a game where people have sticks in their hands and blades on their feet. Let’s get rid of all that, too, shall we?

This is why I'm convinced more and more everyday, that the people leading this righteous crusade are people that have clearly never played hockey before, and I doubt have even watched the game for any length of time.

I guarantee there is more football players who have permamushed brains from all the tackling in the last 10 years then there is hockey players with any sort of brain trauma since the NHL was founded. But are people trying to get rid of tackling in football?

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#8 Robin B
February 10 2009, 03:53PM
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@ jeanshorts: MacIntyre was asked today what he'd be doing if there was no fighting in hockey.

"It's hard to say," MacIntyre shrugged. "Probably trying to figure out how to play hockey . . . hopefully, it doesn't come to that."

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#9 Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer
February 10 2009, 03:53PM
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Youll never guess whats the #1 sport in the world that leads to head injuries/death due to head injuries.

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#10 ryanbatty
February 10 2009, 03:55PM
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Fact is, Daum should never have been removed.

Exactly. Only a team with management as dysfunctional as this one would take a guy like Daum and find a way to move him away from the team in favor of Buchberger.

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#11 Ssseth
February 10 2009, 03:56PM
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Hopefully the change helps them at least salvage the season.

Glad to hear Pisani is close!

Robin B wrote:

@ jeanshorts: MacIntyre was asked today what he’d be doing if there was no fighting in hockey. “It’s hard to say,” MacIntyre shrugged. “Probably trying to figure out how to play hockey . . . hopefully, it doesn’t come to that.”

LOL, that was hilarious!

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#12 Mike
February 10 2009, 04:03PM
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Getting punched in the head carries a risk? Really? Here’s a news bulletin — so does getting checked in the boards, dodging frozen rubber pucks and playing a game where people have sticks in their hands and blades on their feet. Let’s get rid of all that, too, shall we?

Hell, and since hockey is such a dangerous sport already, lets cover the players in honey and release a bear at centre ice. I mean, they're already taking a risk, right?

Or we could decide which risks in the sport are necessary to play the game, and which aren't. Why are helments mandatory now? Because they remove a risk without hurting the on-ice product.

Is fighting fundamental to the game of hockey? Considering it nearly disappears in the playoffs, I think it's a tough argument to make.

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#13 Tyler
February 10 2009, 04:05PM
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@Robin:

Getting punched in the head carries a risk? Really? Here’s a news bulletin — so does getting checked in the boards, dodging frozen rubber pucks and playing a game where people have sticks in their hands and blades on their feet. Let’s get rid of all that, too, shall we?

I think that it's implicit in the study that there's a sort of balancing that needs to take place. The stuff like getting checked, dodging pucks and playing a game where people have sticks and skates is a more essential part of hockey and the threshold at which the risk is unacceptable is necessarily higher than it should be for fighting, which is a more peripheral part of the game.

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#14 Greg MC
February 10 2009, 04:06PM
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Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer wrote:

Youll never guess whats the #1 sport in the world that leads to head injuries/death due to head injuries.

Football (Soccer)?

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#15 Jonathan Willis
February 10 2009, 04:11PM
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Robin B wrote:

MacIntyre was asked today what he’d be doing if there was no fighting in hockey. “It’s hard to say,” MacIntyre shrugged. “Probably trying to figure out how to play hockey . . . hopefully, it doesn’t come to that.”

That's possibly the greatest quote I've ever seen from an Edmonton Oiler.

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#16 Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer
February 10 2009, 04:13PM
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Greg MC wrote:

Jack “slacking off at work” Bauer wrote: Youll never guess whats the #1 sport in the world that leads to head injuries/death due to head injuries. Football (Soccer)?

Cycling.

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#17 B-rad
February 10 2009, 04:18PM
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boxing?

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#18 B-rad
February 10 2009, 04:19PM
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the keading cause of head injuries......most kilely dating chris brown.

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#19 Robin B
February 10 2009, 04:28PM
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@ Tyler: I haven't seen any numbers that tell me there is any more risk of injury (concussion) in a fight than from other bodily contact in the game.

Why was the panel made up of Eric Lindros, who was concussed countless times by body checks because he couldn't keep his head up, Alyn McCauley, who had, like, three fights in his career, and Jeff Beukeboom?

Beukeboom is the only player who even comes close to being an example of damage caused by fighting, and his career-ending concussion came via a gloved-hand punch from behind by Matt Johnson in a scrum, not a fight.

As for "more essential," if injuries are going to have us casting glances at the game and contemplating what needs to be taken out, let's start with hitting from behind and head shots.

The momentum of a 215-pound player skating at full speed and planting the cap of his shoulder pads on the point of the jaw of an opponent is far more likely to cause a concussion than a punch in a fight. Likwise, pitching an opponent head-first into the boards can and has resulted in far worse than a concussion.

Banning fighting is a sexy topic and using concussion injuries is a flimsy leg those making an argument for the ban like to stand on. If you don't like fighting, fine, but just say so.

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#20 one off
February 10 2009, 04:31PM
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Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer wrote:

Cycling.

Well then, I guess that means they should take fighting out of cycling. Or take cycling out of hockey. Or something.

What were we trying to prove?

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#21 jeanshorts
February 10 2009, 04:32PM
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one off wrote:

Or take cycling out of hockey.

hahahahahahaha.

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#22 Rick
February 10 2009, 04:38PM
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On Peter Jaffe's quote about fighting, why would physicians chiming in be a tipping point? For 30 years they have also been saying that smoking will kill you as well and yet not only do people still do it, the government still effectively endorses it.

...

As for Laraque and MacIntyre potentially scrapping tomorrow. Last summer when you guys had him on the TEAM he stated that out of respect he would never ever fight an Oiler.

Now obviously this was said at a time when the closest thing to a threat was Stortini, who is obviously in a different league, but I wonder if now that they have not only a legit heavy but one that has sort of taken over Laraque's soft spot with the fans - will he change his mind?

I haven't had any strong opinions on Laraque since he left but from his radio spots I get the sense that his ego may get the best of him and he may want to prove a point to the Edmonton fans.

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#23 Robin B
February 10 2009, 04:38PM
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one off wrote:

Jack “slacking off at work” Bauer wrote: Cycling. Well then, I guess that means they should take fighting out of cycling. Or take cycling out of hockey. Or something. What were we trying to prove?

We, at least some people, are trying to prove the way they want the game -- for the greater good, of course -- is more important than what fans who accept and enjoy fighting as a part of the game want. More than that, their opinion should carry more weight than the opinions of the people who play it.

If the players wanted fighting out of the game, it would be out of the game. They know the risks involved. No, wait, we know better . . .

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#24 Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer
February 10 2009, 04:43PM
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Apparantly hockey isnt even in the top 10 of sports in the world that fall into this category. I think its something the North American media is running with.

You know though, another factor in this is money. 1) that fighting attracts some of the audience. 2) Having these goon/energy/chip and bang em style players are neccesary in the scheme of payroll. You need these minimum wage grinders to fill out your team to stay within the cap.

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#25 Robin B
February 10 2009, 04:58PM
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Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer wrote:

Apparantly hockey isnt even in the top 10 of sports in the world that fall into this category. I think its something the North American media is running with.

Like I said, it's a sexy topic and one that was bound to come up again after the death of Don Sanderson.

There are more dangerous and damaging plays in hockey, and they happen with greater regularity, than two willing combatants exchanging poorly leveraged punches.

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#26 Ender the Dragon
February 10 2009, 05:05PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

The wholes Visnovski thing and not having the bargaining chips… That is exactly the problem with waiting so long to do something. A trade should have been made 20 games ago.

And if we had made a trade with one of those four chips 20 games ago and we just lost one to season-ending injury last week, we'd be down to two. Let's look at the glass half-full, shall we; we still have enough offensive defencmen that in theory we should be able to survive the loss of one, abeit one of the best we had.

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#27 Tyler
February 10 2009, 05:09PM
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Robin B wrote:

@ Tyler: I haven’t seen any numbers that tell me there is any more risk of injury (concussion) in a fight than from other bodily contact in the game.

Right. I think that the point though is that it makes more sense to tolerate risk from some activities than others. I assume that you'll someday have your son playing hockey, even though there's a say 1 in 300,000 chance that he ends up suffering some sort of paralyzing injury. I assume that you'd be less inclined to tolerate the same level of risk, inintesimal though it might be, in some other activity that you perceived as providing none of the benefits of playing hockey to your kid. I guess what I'm saying is that the relative frequency of concussions from fighting to concussions from other hockey related causes isn't the issue.

As for “more essential,” if injuries are going to have us casting glances at the game and contemplating what needs to be taken out, let’s start with hitting from behind and head shots. The momentum of a 215-pound player skating at full speed and planting the cap of his shoulder pads on the point of the jaw of an opponent is far more likely to cause a concussion than a punch in a fight. Likwise, pitching an opponent head-first into the boards can and has resulted in far worse than a concussion.

I'd actually be cool with taking out those types of hits. Same principle though - I don't think that they add enough to the game for the cost. Threshold's higher in my view, but we've seen some ugly injuries as a result.

Banning fighting is a sexy topic and using concussion injuries is a flimsy leg those making an argument for the ban like to stand on. If you don’t like fighting, fine, but just say so.

I just don't see this. I like fighting. I just don't think that hockey should be willing to tolerate any risk from it, because it's such a parenthetical part of the game. If it was up to me, they'd do away with it.

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#28 Robin B
February 10 2009, 05:13PM
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Tyler wrote:

I just don’t see this. I like fighting. I just don’t think that hockey should be willing to tolerate any risk from it, because it’s such a parenthetical part of the game. If it was up to me, they’d do away with it.

Duly noted.

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#29 Jack "slacking off at work" Bauer
February 10 2009, 05:18PM
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This league is so gutless, and so pathetic when it comes to handing out disipline. Fighting isnt causing concussions and career ending injuries. How about we start with head shots and hits from behind. How is it human garbage scum like Todd Bertuzzi, Bruce Orpik, Ryan Hollweg, Randy Jones, Steve Downie and Denis Gauthier are still allowed to play in this league?? They ruin peoples lives and they get two freaking games???? Gutless scum. Lets get Colin Campbell's kid out there and have one of these low lifes drive him from behind and see how they like it.

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#30 Wanye Gretz
February 10 2009, 05:24PM
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B-rad wrote:

the keading cause of head injuries……most kilely dating chris brown.

Oh yeah.

FMTF

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#31 Robin B
February 10 2009, 05:28PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

B-rad wrote: the keading cause of head injuries……most kilely dating chris brown. Oh yeah. FMTF

B-rad, you've got your Ks and Ls all fucled up.

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#32 Knobby
February 10 2009, 05:48PM
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With the Oiler operation being in such a state I think they need to stimulate some "organizational peristalsis". That's right, the dreaded apparatus. Who is going to volunteer to insert the hose and where should it go? Springfield or Edmonton? How long will it take the patient to recover? I really hate to think about how long this gong show will continue...

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#33 B-rad
February 10 2009, 06:37PM
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Robin B wrote:

Wanye Gretz wrote: B-rad wrote: the keading cause of head injuries……most kilely dating chris brown. Oh yeah. FMTF B-rad, you’ve got your Ks and Ls all fucled up.

Lnow I don't?

My fingers are to fat, so I sort of just lean a forearm on the keyboard and hope for the best..... sigh...again.

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#34 Travis Dakin
February 10 2009, 06:48PM
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Ender the Dragon wrote:

And if we had made a trade with one of those four chips 20 games ago and we just lost one to season-ending injury last week, we’d be down to two. Let’s look at the glass half-full, shall we; we still have enough offensive defencmen that in theory we should be able to survive the loss of one, abeit one of the best we had.

Right, but now we stil don't have a Veteran Center to kill Penalties and take face-offs. We still don't have a good Left Winger for Hemsky and we still don't have a good shutdown dman. Probably could have gotten 2 of the three for one of those puck movers.

The glass that is the Oilers season is not half full or empty. It's all empty haha. And the glass is broken.

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#35 Travis Dakin
February 10 2009, 06:51PM
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sh*t sorry... FMTF!!!

Oh and that MacIntyre quote is pure solid gold. He's awesome.

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#36 Travis Dakin
February 10 2009, 06:53PM
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Travis Dakin wrote:

FMTF!!!

wait.... I thought it was FMNF...

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#37 rent-a-goalie
February 10 2009, 07:05PM
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if you think eliminating fighting will soften up the game you're stuck in 70's. The fewer guys like LGG or smac the better the hockey will be. I'm f'in sick of guys who think they need to have a pissy little jersey tug match b/c one their teammates took a solid check. It just ruins the flow of the game. Hockey fights bring nothing, and they're getting worse as guys focus more on technique. Stage matches between periods if you want so those of us who don't care can answer natures call and face shorter lines for beer.

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#38 Robin B
February 10 2009, 07:14PM
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@ rent-a-goalie: Are you Swiss? Have you ever played badminton? Do you own any IKEA furntiture?

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#39 B-Rad
February 10 2009, 08:06PM
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How can you say a good fight doesn't bring emotion to a bench or does nothing to energize the "majority" of the crowd? It can not only be a way to amp up the whole atmosphere but it can very well be the turning point ina game. We all know that players play a different style to some degree, when someone like Macintyre or Boogard is in the line up. Hockey is fine the way it is. there are things that people don't agree with...but in the end, the game is fine.

and it looks like my L and K buttons are back in order.

whew.

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#40 Jason Gregor
February 10 2009, 08:08PM
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Tyler wrote:

I just don’t see this. I like fighting. I just don’t think that hockey should be willing to tolerate any risk from it, because it’s such a parenthetical part of the game. If it was up to me, they’d do away with it.

There is a risk with every part of the game, and to say the fighting interferes with the game is ridiculous. It forces some players to be accountable to their actions. Your argument that we should get rid of everything that has potential for risk is absurd.

Well then we should stop making booze, cigarettes, fatty foods, motorbikes because they are more of a risk than cars...etc.

You think it interferes with the game, but I've yet to hear an active player who says it does. So while you are entitled to you opinion, there is no proof that says fighting interferes with the game.

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#41 Jason Gregor
February 10 2009, 08:10PM
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rent-a-goalie wrote:

Stage matches between periods if you want so those of us who don’t care can answer natures call and face shorter lines for beer.

You are in the minority as far as those who don't like fighting. And if you want to rid the game of staged fights, fine. But in the heat of the battle they play a part. Did you think the Lecavalier/Iginla tilt hurt the game in the Stanley Cup final. Probably not. Getting rid of staged fights, is different than banning fighting all together.

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#42 APE
February 10 2009, 08:16PM
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rent-a-goalie wrote:

Stage matches between periods

WTF is a match anyway? Fighting is a part of hockey. From Bantam until the NHL. Period.

I'm with Gregor, the only people bitching and whining are the people who don't even play...figure that out.

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#43 The Towel Boy
February 10 2009, 08:19PM
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Robin B wrote:

MacIntyre was asked today what he’d be doing if there was no fighting in hockey. “It’s hard to say,” MacIntyre shrugged. “Probably trying to figure out how to play hockey . . . hopefully, it doesn’t come to that.”

Is Stevie Mac trying to take over for Greener by dishing out halarious comments? Cuz that's gold.

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#44 Dennis
February 10 2009, 08:25PM
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I love watching fights and last year's dust-up in Van was probably one of the two most entertaining games of the season; the other being that late season OT win in Chi.

So, I'm not going to lie and say I'm not entertained when two guys chuck 'em. Still, nothing beats the intensity of playoff hockey when most nearly every inch is contested and nary a fight's to be found.

I've got nothing against eliminating high hits or those from behind, either, because while these guys are making good coin they shouldn't have to worry about yahoos like Denis Gauthier hurtling into their jaw like he did against Gorges a couple of weeks ago in Mtl. So, f**K yeah, go zero tolerance on those hits and police the players because some of those guys refuse to police themselves.

BTW, there was an excellent story in the globe this week about an incident in Ontario in the 50's where a young player died after taking a hit from behind.

There's certainly no question that a direct punch in the face can do major damage but as a start there should be some kind of penalty doffing the helmet. As for the players knowing what's best, there are a lot of guys too myopic to know what's really best for them and no one's quality of life - outside of the guys who can't play the game - will be damaged by stricter rules regarding fighting.

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#45 MikeP
February 10 2009, 08:26PM
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Jason Gregor wrote:

You think it interferes with the game, but I’ve yet to hear an active player who says it does. So while you are entitled to you opinion, there is no proof that says fighting interferes with the game.

I think it's legitimate to say that as a fan, it interferes with the flow of the game.

I wouldn't necessarily agree with that, although I hate the trend of jumping somebody because he delivered a hard check cleanly.

I'm not even sure how you'd "prove" one way or another; it's not like a player's opinion means more than a fan's, unless every player is a perfect judge of everything that's happening on the ice.

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#46 Tencer's Brain Cell
February 10 2009, 08:33PM
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Tyler is obviously right that fighting could be eliminated from the game without much loss and there is some risk of injury for players who fight. I mean, I don't remember any fights in the Olympics. Good intense hockey, and no fights. The real reason that fighting is so ubiquitous in hockey is that fighting is part of Canadian culture, especially rural Canadian culture. The kids I grew up with fought a lot whether they played the game or not. So, they fought when they got to the rink. Their dads fight even though they don't play the game anymore, and they tell their kids to fight on the rink and off. For better or worse, hockey fights are the result of a sort of Canadian macho. Simple as that. This is all obvious of course; football is rougher than hockey, but they don't have regular fights. Some European kids play the game pretty hard and they don't fight. Blah, blah, blah...

However, I think Robin's implied point is that if two grown men want to fight, they choose to take that risk, just as they choose the risk of getting injured by a body check, and so they should be allowed to do so. Thus, Robin is right that the safety of the combatants is not a valid or compelling reason to ban fighting.

Nonetheless, I do think the NHL should get rid of fighting; it's boring and it's stupid. Hockey fights are about as good an idea as adding fights to curling. Put a fifth guy on each rink who rarely sweeps, but who really lays down the law with the other rinks enforcers. This would be pointless, inauthentic, boring fighting.

If I want to watch a fight, I can turn on the UFC or I can watch boxing. That's exciting stuff. Interestingly, in the 70's and 80's hockey fights filled a cultural demand for real bare knuckle violence, but with cable TV and the MMA, there isn't really a need anymore.

There's also something tremendously fake about NHL fights, especially between designated goons. Most of these guys know each other and don't dislike each other. Moreover, they generally "hug it out" if they feel over matched. And refs stop the fight before much can happen. And hockey fights are rarely won cleanly. (Would you watch a 2 hour PPV of hockey fights? ZZZzzzzz....)

Of course there are a rare, few fights that are pretty interesting, especially if, in a heated playoff game, two actual players go at it because they're actually upset. The Iginla Lecavalier fight is the best, recent example I can think of here.

In other words, NHL fights are more WWE than UFC. Actually, a better comparison is the old Jerry Springer show. People scrap, throw a few crappy punches then get pulled apart. The first few times Springer fights are exciting, in the way being in a fight is. But it grows boring, quickly.

If you're still excited by regular NHL fights between goons, that's pretty pathetic; you'll love old episodes of Springer and the WWE. There's a similar degree of holding and hugging, "refs" to pull apart the fighters, and the same amount of reality in all three.

And THIS is why Americans don't like fighting in hockey. It's not that hockey is violent. It's that hockey fights are boring.

Anyway, I doubt I've convinced any of you.

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#47 Tyler
February 10 2009, 08:45PM
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There is a risk with every part of the game, and to say the fighting interferes with the game is ridiculous. It forces some players to be accountable to their actions... You think it interferes with the game, but I’ve yet to hear an active player who says it does. So while you are entitled to you opinion, there is no proof that says fighting interferes with the game.

None of the words that I used in that comment were "interfere". None of the words that I used in that comment mean "interfere".

Looking at the part you've quoted, the only word I can possibly see causing any confusion is "parenthetical", by which I mean that fighting is incidental to the game of hockey. You can have great hockey games without any fights - we see them all the time in the WC and the playoffs. A fight is an ancillary sort of a thing, an extra...I don't know, I'm running out of synonyms here.

In any event, I don't think that it interferes with the game, I think that it's kind of the appendix of hockey. If your appendix gives you problems you take it because it's unnecessary. If your heart gives you problems, you try to fix it.

Your argument that we should get rid of everything that has potential for risk is absurd. Well then we should stop making booze, cigarettes, fatty foods, motorbikes because they are more of a risk than cars…etc.

Again, that's not anywhere near what I'm saying. I made that pretty explicit above, where I talked about different risk tolerances for different activities. Not to mention that there's a whole separate issue of individual freedom that arises in the example you're citing. I honestly can't tell sometimes whether you're making inane arguments for the sake of making inane arguments, in a sort of filling the airtime kind of way, or if you actually believe that that was my point, which would be astounding to me.

My point is that in evaluating these things, there's a balancing of interests that has to take place, much like when we're evaluating whether any sort of conduct should be prohibited. With fighting, the value of it to the game, in my opinion, is less than other elements of the game and so we should be willing to tolerate fewer risks in evaluating whether it should be more aggressively eliminated from the game.

Put it this way: you'd probably be willing to tolerate more side effects from something like chemotherapy than you would from something lollipops. The benefits of chemotherapy, if you're someone with cancer, are significant. The benefits of a lollipop, even if you're someone who really likes lollipops, are considerably less important. If lollipops caused people to feel slightly nauseous, even if it's not as bad as the effects of chemo, nobody would consume lollipops. The fact that the effects are still better than the vomiting and hair loss caused by chemo are irrelevant - the issue is the positive value that accrues from the consumption of a lollipop versus the costs in terms of the slight nausea.

Turning it back to hockey, I see the value and positive impact of fighting as being considerably less than with things like hitting. Were I the king of hockey, I'd be considerably less willing to risk things like concussions to keep fighting in the game than I would be to keep hitting in the game.

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#48 Tencer's Brain Cell
February 10 2009, 08:46PM
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My solution is simple. 1. Don't ban fights out right. 2. Give a 5-50 game suspension for any player who assaults another without his consent, the length depending on how the assailant attacked. 3. If a player gets in more than say 1 fight in 10 games, issue a warning and a fine, and if the player gets in more than 1 fight in the next 10 games, issue a suspension.

You can change the numbers, but it works. Iginla can still fight occasionally. If he fights too much he'll get some fines, and a suspension if he's really stupid. No more SMac and likely no Boogard.

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#49 Robin B
February 10 2009, 08:49PM
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@ Tencer's Brain Cell: No, you haven't.

Still, what you say about many hockey fights being boring is true, and there are those who see no place for staged bouts -- it surprises me more people haven't commented on the tidbit about Laraque and MacIntyre texting each other. I mean, shouldn't there be some ill will attached to a punch in the mouth?

That said, I'm curious to find out if Laraque and MacIntyre are, well, curious . . .

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#50 APE
February 10 2009, 08:50PM
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Tencer's Brain Cell wrote:

don’t remember any fights in the Olympics. Good intense hockey, and no fights. The real reason that fighting is so ubiquitous in hockey is that fighting is part of Canadian culture, especially rural Canadian culture

Are you serious? That has to be one of the lamest, most idiotic things I think I have ever read.

Tencer's Brain Cell wrote:

I do think the NHL should get rid of fighting; it’s boring and it’s stupid

Have you ever played hockey? MOST of the fights in the NHL are NOT by the designated goons and are a DIRECT result of battles between players or to retaliate to something that has happened.

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