INSTIGATOR RULE: THE PLAYERS WANT IT

Robin Brownlee
January 30 2011 09:29PM

I've long assumed NHL players would rather do away with the instigator rule that was put in place in 1992 and police on-ice disputes and cheap shots the good, old-fashioned way -- with fisticuffs. How wrong I was.

In a vote I can only describe as stunning to the old-school assumptions of many fans and media types -- I'm guessing Don Cherry will soil his suit when he reads the results -- a poll written by Hockey Night in Canada and the NHLPA and responded to by 318 NHL players clearly shows players don't long for a return to jungle law on the ice nearly as much as some of us believe.

Responding to the question, "Should the instigator rule be abolished?" fully 66 per cent of players voted "no." Thirty-three per cent voted yes, while .6 per cent were voted "depends" or "don't care."

Obviously, players don't believe the potential for retribution by their peers is a better deterrent to yapping, cheap hits and other indiscretions than penalties, suspensions and a hearing with Colin Campbell.

Old school is out.

CHANGING TIMES

I'm not completely sure what to make of the results of that question, which was part of a multi-question poll that was circulated -- I suspect the opinion of players that Edmonton remains one of the least desirable NHL cities in which to play will create more of a buzz around here -- but I'm nonetheless surprised by the result.

The default solution for a lot of us to the escalation of dirty deeds on the ice and perceived "loss of respect" between players since 1992 has been to drop the controversial -- but is it, really? -- instigator rule.

The rule protects, many of us have reasoned, the phonies and agitators and cheap-shot artists because they don't have to pay a price in blood or teeth, so they run amok. That's resulted, we've deduced, in what we have now.

The 318 players polled don't see it that way. A punch in the mouth from Steve MacIntyre, George Parros or Derek Boogaard? No thanks. That's not the answer. That won't restore law and order. Better to leave things as they are now.

I've long been amused that some fans or notepad-toters like myself believe they know what's best for the people who are actually playing the game. We don't. While we're all welcome to our opinions, I've always thought it best that those who play the game have the most input into the rules that govern the game. I won't go back on that now.

Still, it's a jolt to an assumption I've long held, especially considering 98 per cent of the same group of players voted "no" when asked if fighting should be banned in the NHL.

THIS JUST IN . . .

In yet another kick to the groin of those who put a lot of weight in polls like this, Edmonton was again identified as being about as popular as diarrhea and wet sloppy kisses from auntie Hortense at Christmas when it comes to favoured places to play.

The same 318 players were asked, "What team would you least like to play on?" The New York Islanders garnered 27 per cent. The Oilers were second at 20 per cent. Atlanta polled 7 per cent, Toronto 5 per cent and Florida 2 per cent. All things considered this is not stop-the-presses stuff.

The Islanders are losers with the worst building in the NHL. The Oilers are headed for a franchise-record five straight years out of the playoffs and have an outdated 36-year-old barn. It's as cold as hell here for six months of the year and Pothole City for the other six.

The Thrashers aren't even an afterthought in the minds of Atlanta sports fans, falling somewhere between monster truck shows and bass fishing. Likewise the Panthers, who are page 4 in the sports section except when they're any good, which has been rare indeed.

Toronto? The Maple Leafs have mostly stunk like rank cheese since 1967 and players endure losing in front of a media horde and a rabid fan base that is second only to Montreal.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show 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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#101 Tyler
January 31 2011, 08:01PM
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Robin -

I'm not sure why the player and his agent would need an OK to talk to Bryan Murray. Comrie was an RFA at the time. Any team in the NHL could talk to him.

I'm not saying it is or was standard for NHL transactions or that it wasn't a story. I'm saying it's not an unusual thing from a business perspective or "wrong". It's a business transaction.

There were three parties to the transaction who wanted something: Anaheim wanted Comrie, Comrie wanted to not be in Edmonton and the Oilers wanted what they perceived to be a fair return on their investment in Comrie. Comrie's not a piece of meat - he's a party who wanted something and had something to give up for it. I've said it before but I thought it was a clever way for the Oilers to potentially bridge the value gap in the transaction. It wouldn't be an unusual thing in any other business.

I also thought it was a bit rich (pun intended) for Comrie to be so aggrieved by that - Lowe had some leverage and he tried to do what he could do. There weren't any rules prohibiting that. As I recall (maybe I'm wrong) Lowe didn't bitch and moan in 1999 when Comrie used his leverage to force the Oilers to pay a lot more than players with a comparable draft pedigree got. Winter said at the time that the Oilers were getting a great deal because they got Comrie for the next thirteen years. Hard to blame Lowe for trying to recoup a bit of the price when it turned out 13 meant 3.

If Lowe led the Ducks to think a deal was done regardless of Comrie's contribution or lack thereof, then he screwed up. I'll say a lot of things about Kevin Lowe's acumen as a GM but he's always struck me as a guy who is a very straight dealer and (particularly by hockey business standards) a very honest guy. I'd be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt if he gave the Ducks an impression he didn't intend to and assume it was unintentional.

The real question, of course, it whether that affects the Oilers' reputation with guys now. You talk to more hockey players than I do but the Comrie thing seems like ancient history to me and the Pronger business seems to be widely accepted to his wife being unhappy more than anything being wrong with Edmonton. If there was some sort of a proper survey done that tested preferences and what not, I expect everything would pale in comparison to being a place you could win.

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#102 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 31 2011, 08:34PM
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Dennis wrote:

Pronger was awesome And signed to a value contract.

Lowe would have to live a long time to botch something as badly as he did that trade.

Magic Beans Smid and potential soft minute superstar LupulÉ

Give me a ******* break.

You know we essentially recieved 4 first rounders and a 2nd for Pronger.

If we were to trade that for a player people would be losing their marbles over it.

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#104 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 31 2011, 08:39PM
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So what would everyone think if we traded:

Gagner + Peckham + 2 firsts + 2nd for say Chara?

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#105 David S
January 31 2011, 08:45PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

So what would everyone think if we traded:

Gagner + Peckham + 2 firsts + 2nd for say Chara?

What does this have to do with Horcoff's bloated contract?

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#106 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 31 2011, 08:46PM
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David S wrote:

What does this have to do with Horcoff's bloated contract?

Seven million!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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#107 David S
January 31 2011, 08:48PM
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/thread

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#108 Tyler
January 31 2011, 08:48PM
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I'm guessing players, their union and agents would take note of Edmonton's management playing hardball with Comrie, especially when the person who made the pitch is still part of the hockey ops end, as Lowe is.

You talk to hockey players - do any of them care? To the point that they would snub Edmonton when they think it's otherwise the best option for them? I seriously doubt it. Of course, the only time the Oilers have tried to attract FA in the past ten years is when they've been terrible.

Friedman wrote that it is or was a pain in the ass to get things like sticks and skates out of the Oilers. I'm as surprised as you are that we learned that from a national guy instead of someone in Edmonton but if it's true, that strikes me as far more of an irritant than a one off situation that probably couldn't happen now.

As far as Comrie goes, I'm not a hockey agent, nor do I talk to many of them, but I'm a lawyer, like a lot of agents and asking Comrie for money to complete a deal, while unusual, doesn't strike me as outrageous or something to really worry about when dealing with them. At most, it's something you tell your next client who might deal with them. I suspect most guys would recognize it as an unusual situation and not put a ton of weight it.

This isn't winding road, it's a straight line. No need for a 100-paragraph dissertation on the concept.

Well that's easier than arguing the logic of it. If it's too long winded, you're under no obligation to respond.

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#109 Tyler
January 31 2011, 08:49PM
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I'm guessing players, their union and agents would take note of Edmonton's management playing hardball with Comrie, especially when the person who made the pitch is still part of the hockey ops end, as Lowe is.

You talk to hockey players - do any of them care? To the point that they would snub Edmonton when they think it's otherwise the best option for them? I seriously doubt it. Of course, the only time the Oilers have tried to attract FA in the past ten years is when they've been terrible.

Friedman wrote that it is or was a pain in the ass to get things like sticks and skates out of the Oilers. I'm as surprised as you are that we learned that from a national guy instead of someone in Edmonton but if it's true, that strikes me as far more of an irritant than a one off situation that probably couldn't happen now.

As far as Comrie goes, I'm not a hockey agent, nor do I talk to many of them, but I'm a lawyer, like a lot of agents and asking Comrie for money to complete a deal, while unusual, doesn't strike me as outrageous or something to really worry about when dealing with them. At most, it's something you tell your next client who might deal with them. I suspect most guys would recognize it as an unusual situation and not put a ton of weight it.

This isn't winding road, it's a straight line. No need for a 100-paragraph dissertation on the concept.

Well that's easier than arguing the logic of it. If it's too long winded, you're under no obligation to respond.

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#110 Dan the Man
January 31 2011, 08:57PM
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Dennis wrote:

Pronger was awesome And signed to a value contract.

Lowe would have to live a long time to botch something as badly as he did that trade.

Magic Beans Smid and potential soft minute superstar LupulÉ

Give me a ******* break.

The Oilers grabbing Eberle with one of the picks makes that deal a little better.

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#112 Dan the Man
January 31 2011, 09:13PM
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The worst part of the botched Comrie deal with Anaheim was getting Jeff Woywitka, a 1st round selection (Robbie Schremp) in 2004 and a 3rd round selection (Danny Syvret) in 2005 instead of Corey Perry and a first rounder from the Ducks (The Ducks seleceted 9th overall in 2004 and picked Ladislav Smid ironically enough).

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#113 Romanus
January 31 2011, 09:24PM
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ubermiguel wrote:

The weather sucks here, but that's not the reason the Oilers, Islanders and Leafs are on the list. Let's look at the teams the players voted as ones they'd MOST like to play on:

- Detroit - Vancouver - Chicago - New York Rangers - Tampa Bay

Most of those cities are as cold as Toronto and the New York. Hell, the same city (New York) made BOTH LISTS! What does that tell you? It's the team (or team-mates) that matters, not the city.

Tampa Bay is on there because of the Stamkos factor. They're a few player moves away from winning (D-man, goalie).

They are close to winning and still will likely need to pay Hulk Hogan an appearance fee to get people in for the Stanley cup finals so it doesnt look bad on TV.

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#114 book¡e
January 31 2011, 09:28PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

So what would everyone think if we traded:

Gagner + Peckham + 2 firsts + 2nd for say Chara?

First, I would't do it.

Second, Chara has a No Movement Clause so why even consider it?

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#115 stevezie
January 31 2011, 09:50PM
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I think he was making a point about the Pronger trade, not suggesting a new one.

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#116 Archaeologuy
January 31 2011, 09:54PM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

So what would everyone think if we traded:

Gagner + Peckham + 2 firsts + 2nd for say Chara?

Terrible deal considering the next 2 Oilers Firsts are likely lottery picks. Someone already mentioned Chara's NTC and he's 33.

What are the Oilers going to use a 33 year old defenseman for? By the time the Oilers get half decent (5+ years considering they wont have their next 2 lottery picks to help them out) Chara will be in his mid-late thirties.

Is this team really 1 excellent defenseman away from contending? I highly doubt it. Then you subtract Gagner and presumably replace him with Hall, making you depend on Horcoff to maintain his health and decent play into his mid thirties.

I cant see this trade working well for either team's respective goals. 1) Building a Oiler team through the draft that can contend for years and 2) Putting the Bruins over the top to win a Stanley Cup in this year or the next.

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#117 ubermiguel
January 31 2011, 10:03PM
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Romanus wrote:

They are close to winning and still will likely need to pay Hulk Hogan an appearance fee to get people in for the Stanley cup finals so it doesnt look bad on TV.

You are correct, they are in a terrible market. Players want to go to Tampa Bay but clearly not because they are a "hockey market". It's because of the quality players (and coach and GM) there.

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#118 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 31 2011, 10:36PM
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Tyler wrote:

I'm guessing players, their union and agents would take note of Edmonton's management playing hardball with Comrie, especially when the person who made the pitch is still part of the hockey ops end, as Lowe is.

You talk to hockey players - do any of them care? To the point that they would snub Edmonton when they think it's otherwise the best option for them? I seriously doubt it. Of course, the only time the Oilers have tried to attract FA in the past ten years is when they've been terrible.

Friedman wrote that it is or was a pain in the ass to get things like sticks and skates out of the Oilers. I'm as surprised as you are that we learned that from a national guy instead of someone in Edmonton but if it's true, that strikes me as far more of an irritant than a one off situation that probably couldn't happen now.

As far as Comrie goes, I'm not a hockey agent, nor do I talk to many of them, but I'm a lawyer, like a lot of agents and asking Comrie for money to complete a deal, while unusual, doesn't strike me as outrageous or something to really worry about when dealing with them. At most, it's something you tell your next client who might deal with them. I suspect most guys would recognize it as an unusual situation and not put a ton of weight it.

This isn't winding road, it's a straight line. No need for a 100-paragraph dissertation on the concept.

Well that's easier than arguing the logic of it. If it's too long winded, you're under no obligation to respond.

I'd tend to agree that few players consider Comrie when looking at where to play (maybe 6-8 years ago a few did, but not anymore... I mean half the league has probably turned over since then).

More then one team has "wronged players" and then carried on attracting talent.

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#119 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 31 2011, 10:37PM
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book¡e wrote:

First, I would't do it.

Second, Chara has a No Movement Clause so why even consider it?

And do you think we were robbed when we traded Pronger to the Ducks?

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#120 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 31 2011, 10:38PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Terrible deal considering the next 2 Oilers Firsts are likely lottery picks. Someone already mentioned Chara's NTC and he's 33.

What are the Oilers going to use a 33 year old defenseman for? By the time the Oilers get half decent (5+ years considering they wont have their next 2 lottery picks to help them out) Chara will be in his mid-late thirties.

Is this team really 1 excellent defenseman away from contending? I highly doubt it. Then you subtract Gagner and presumably replace him with Hall, making you depend on Horcoff to maintain his health and decent play into his mid thirties.

I cant see this trade working well for either team's respective goals. 1) Building a Oiler team through the draft that can contend for years and 2) Putting the Bruins over the top to win a Stanley Cup in this year or the next.

Same question to you Arch, do you think we got hosed when we traded Pronger to the Ducks?

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#121 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
January 31 2011, 10:39PM
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stevezie wrote:

I think he was making a point about the Pronger trade, not suggesting a new one.

Shhhhhhhh

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#122 Oilcruzer
February 01 2011, 05:29AM
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book¡e wrote:

First, I would't do it.

Second, Chara has a No Movement Clause so why even consider it?

Well, with Weber untouchable, and Souray gone, Chara still has at least 5 more years of giving the Oil what they need to get over the top and be champions.

(I should probably add "of the superskills hardest shot competition.")

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#123 Archaeologuy
February 01 2011, 07:07AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

Same question to you Arch, do you think we got hosed when we traded Pronger to the Ducks?

Kevin Lowe says he would do that move differently if he could. That makes me think the Oil Brass seem to think we got less than we should, but I think the sting would have been lessened if the Oil had held onto Lupul instead of trading him for a series of players that eventually turned into Patrick O'Sullivan and then Vandermeer.

Your question is misleading. The Ducks were already a better team than the Oilers were when they acquired Pronger. They wouldnt have offered up two Firsts if they were poised to pick in the lottery.

Either way, I dont see what that question has to do with the Bruins trading Chara. The circumstances are completely different for each team.

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#124 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 01 2011, 08:20AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Kevin Lowe says he would do that move differently if he could. That makes me think the Oil Brass seem to think we got less than we should, but I think the sting would have been lessened if the Oil had held onto Lupul instead of trading him for a series of players that eventually turned into Patrick O'Sullivan and then Vandermeer.

Your question is misleading. The Ducks were already a better team than the Oilers were when they acquired Pronger. They wouldnt have offered up two Firsts if they were poised to pick in the lottery.

Either way, I dont see what that question has to do with the Bruins trading Chara. The circumstances are completely different for each team.

It has nothing to do with the Bruins trading Chara, he was simply the closest player to Pronger 2006 that I could come up with. It didn't matter who the player was, what matterd is that he was an early 30's Norris caliber Dman.

And even if the Oilers were sitting in 12th instead of 29th I think most would still react the same way

It's simply a question of value, everyone feels we got hosed in the Pronger trade, yet I bet most would scoff at trading a similar package to get a similar talent to Pronger 2006.

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#125 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 01 2011, 08:21AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Kevin Lowe says he would do that move differently if he could. That makes me think the Oil Brass seem to think we got less than we should, but I think the sting would have been lessened if the Oil had held onto Lupul instead of trading him for a series of players that eventually turned into Patrick O'Sullivan and then Vandermeer.

Your question is misleading. The Ducks were already a better team than the Oilers were when they acquired Pronger. They wouldnt have offered up two Firsts if they were poised to pick in the lottery.

Either way, I dont see what that question has to do with the Bruins trading Chara. The circumstances are completely different for each team.

#2

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#126 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 01 2011, 08:22AM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Kevin Lowe says he would do that move differently if he could. That makes me think the Oil Brass seem to think we got less than we should, but I think the sting would have been lessened if the Oil had held onto Lupul instead of trading him for a series of players that eventually turned into Patrick O'Sullivan and then Vandermeer.

Your question is misleading. The Ducks were already a better team than the Oilers were when they acquired Pronger. They wouldnt have offered up two Firsts if they were poised to pick in the lottery.

Either way, I dont see what that question has to do with the Bruins trading Chara. The circumstances are completely different for each team.

Hat trick!

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#127 Quicksilver ballet
February 01 2011, 09:34AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

So what would everyone think if we traded:

Gagner + Peckham + 2 firsts + 2nd for say Chara?

Can't believe a few took you serious on this deal OB1, you must've been indulging in some herbal type cigarettes last evening eh.

Before Kevin steamrolled that deal for Comrie to the Ducks, what players were they going to send back our way, anyone remember, was there someone else other than Corey Perry? Have to think these two Kevin Lowe efforts (Pronger Comrie) alone have alot to do with where we're at today.

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#128 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 01 2011, 09:38AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Can't believe a few took you serious on this deal OB1, you must've been indulging in some herbal type cigarettes last evening eh.

Before Kevin steamrolled that deal for Comrie to the Ducks, what players were they going to send back our way, anyone remember, was there someone else other than Corey Perry? Have to think these two Kevin Lowe efforts (Pronger Comrie) alone have alot to do with where we're at today.

What about you QSB, if we were a say, 10th - 12th place team league wide, would you trade the equivalant of 4 first rounders and a second for an early 30's franchise Dman?

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#129 Quicksilver ballet
February 01 2011, 09:59AM
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OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F wrote:

What about you QSB, if we were a say, 10th - 12th place team league wide, would you trade the equivalant of 4 first rounders and a second for an early 30's franchise Dman?

"If" we were that competitive then yes. We've all seen the impact of a player of his stature had in 2006.

I must've missed the ealier part of this conversation you were having, i thought you meant doing this deal now while we're mired in the basement. That, and the fact that you're willing to include Gagner had me baffled. This is coming from a guy who would move Hemsky,Penner and Gagner if it landed us another top 5, so i can't be trusted really.

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#130 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
February 01 2011, 11:37AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

"If" we were that competitive then yes. We've all seen the impact of a player of his stature had in 2006.

I must've missed the ealier part of this conversation you were having, i thought you meant doing this deal now while we're mired in the basement. That, and the fact that you're willing to include Gagner had me baffled. This is coming from a guy who would move Hemsky,Penner and Gagner if it landed us another top 5, so i can't be trusted really.

You aren't as big of a hypocrite as I thought you'd be. I'm impressed.

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