There shouldn't be fighting in prospect games

Cam Charron
September 12 2011 10:52AM

 

 

The scene: After a hard-fought prospects game at one of the many preseason tournaments sprouting up across North America, a progressive coach brings a player into his office to discuss the fighting major the player earned the night before in the second period of a 5-1 hockey game.

"Oh, hey, it's good to see you showed up. I wanted to call you in here with regards to that fight that you had last night in our prospects game.

Listen, I don't know who told you that the best way to get noticed during these tournaments is to stand up for either yourself or your teammates, but it isn't. Our scouting staff have spend hours watching you and, while we may not have drafted you this past spring, it by no means indicates that we don't know much about you. 

We invited you to this camp so that we could test you out in a few game situations under our control and see how you handle them. One of those isn't fighting, trust me. You don't have to prove anything. We know how hard you work already.

Look, you're a good hockey player. I've seen some of your game tape from junior hockey, and there's a lot of good things that you can do, and trust me, we're looking. We know how hard you've worked to make it this far in hockey, and you definitely don't need to prove it to us. Particularly by doing something as dangerous as fighting; I was nearly sick to my stomach last night watching you scrap and I'm relieved that you and the guy on the other team you fought came out unscatched, but let's not toy with fate.

I don't want to connect the dangers of fighting to some of the tragic deaths we've seen over the past two summers because in all those terrible cases there were outside influences factor in, but that doesn't mean that this organization takes them lightly. Hockey is already a fast, dangerous, violent game that can hurt you in many different ways and we don't want to add to that list on dangerous, violent things in this sport, particularly with something that this organization doesn't feel has a tangible impact on the game.

You may think that you're turning the momentum in the game, but, trust me, we've done a bit of research. For all the examples you can find of a player overcoming an opponent in fisticuffs and motivating his team to score a goal and come back to win the hockey game, we can find just as many examples of times it didn't work.

In the end, while I appreciate that you want to show how hard you've worked, I'd feel a lot better if you showed me in other ways. Win puck battles, create scoring chances, or even do something as simple as set up an offensive zone faceoff—really, our coaching staff and video analysts are looking at all these things when we evaluate our players. We want to see you do things on the ice that we think can help us win the hockey game, and we don't want to see you taking part in a sideshow when we don't know the full effects of the toll fighting can take on a player, particularly one so young as yourself."

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#101 dawgbone98
September 12 2011, 08:00PM
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Eddie Shore wrote:

One thing being overlooked here is that these games are not "meaningless". These kids have 2 or 3 games to make an impact on management. If fighting a guy tonight, gets me in the lineup tomorrow, you better believe I am going to fight when asked.

Was there ever a risk that Teubert wasn't going to dress for the next game?

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#102 dawgbone98
September 12 2011, 08:15PM
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Ducey wrote:

I'd rather Cam Abney be ready to play as a hockey player in the NHL, rather than be ready as a fighter. Having the latter without the former has little actual value. Not only that, but he's got a full season in the AHL to prove he can fight men. ------------------------------------- I don't want players fighting in training camp. The point is is that these games are largely meaningless. It is an unacceptable risk to have your prospect fighting in a meaningless game. For most of these guys there is little chance they start the season in the NHL, why risk an injury in an exhibition game?

What happens when you are trying to decide if an Abney should play in the AHL, ECHL or go back to junior?

The logical conclusion to your argument is that they don't need the prospect game at all. They saw RNH play last year and will have this year to watch him - why bother?

Further, should we then outlaw hits - especially when its 6-0, as they increase the chance of injury?

If you want no fighting in hockey, fine. There are some good arguments for that position. I could do without the staged stuff. But to start saying to teams and players that you can have it here but not there is unfair to both.

Until you see Abney fighting with guys closer and closer to his ultimate weight division, you don't really know if he has the technique and strength needed to excel.

If I'm deciding whether Abney should be in the CHL, ECHL or AHL it's not based on his fighting, it's based on where he is capable of taking a regular shift without being a detriment to his team. His fighting ability is the last thing I look at because if he can fight like a demon but still can't play above a CHL level, then he should be in the CHL.

I'm not saying they don't need the prospects game, but I think the focus should be on the right players. Do I need to see another game of Hopkins doing his thing against the same calibre of players he played against last year? Probably not, but seeing Gernat is probably something not a lot of the scouts were able to see. Same with the invitees and undrafted free agents. A guy like Hopkins just increases the amount of skill in the game (which is fine), but you aren't evaluating him.

And hits are apart of hockey from 12 years old... fights aren't (especially staged ones). Besides, the penalty I'm suggesting isn't that drastic, you can still fight if you really feel you have to, it just discourages some of the scenes in previous years where there are 6 or 7 staged fights because guys want to prove how tough they are, and the game is already in the bag so there is no need to play hockey anymore.

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#103 Craigero
September 12 2011, 08:21PM
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I think there is nothing to worry about and the Oilers have depth at all positions. Once the defence matures and gets better it will be no surprise our goaltending will all of a sudden be nothing to really worry about. I think we desperately need to a puck moving power power play specialist on the point. Hall and Hopkins look like a future Sakic and Forsberg combination. I see a Stanley Cup in the near future and Hall will be front and centre. Go Oil

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#104 Archaeologuy
September 12 2011, 09:20PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

I just had to give you props for the shout out to Frances Aleba. One of my favorite professors ever and the person I credit most for my interest in the English language.

I still remember the first class when he (as he always did) so passionately remark that "words and language are POWER! If you are able to command the english language, you command POWER!"

Tough not to be excited with such a passionate professor.

...Oh ya.. fighting...

Last year I had a change of heart. I was in the "you can't ban fighting, it's part of the game!," and the "this is part of the pussification of the world" camp. Then I watched MacIntyre all last year. Man, is that guy ever a bad NHL player! His fights were brutal too. He had the one good one against Ivanins where it was part of the show (battle of Alberta, 1st game in the "new culture," etc...) and I cheered.

As the season went on though, I thought the staged fights were useless. Every. Single. One. They added nothing to the game.

That being said, the fights I can agree with are the emotional ones. Taylor Hall fighting because he is tired of a guy bein a dick, or Gagner fighting for the same reasons. Those are the fights that change momentum, not the staged fights. I go get another beer when those come on.

That Aleba class was intense for a then 18 yr old Archaeologuy. 1/2 the class dropped before the second semester started and 1/3 of the remaining class failed.

It was unbelievably taxing. But I survived and thrived, so no complaints from me.

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#105 Peterborough
September 12 2011, 09:32PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

I don't agree with everything that is written on the Nation Sites, but I appreciate them for writing it.

Add something of value, or keep your garbage comments to yourself.

Also, "irrevant" isn't a word.

You're right that was unfair to Cam and generally a waste of time. Sorry for that Cam I do appriciate the spirit of your work. However: Guys like Cam Abney need to showcase themselves and thats what is going to get them to the show.

Fighting should stay untill it disapears from the NHL. These kids are prospects too and until their is no need for fighters (that day may be comming soon, I'll admit) they need a venue as much as anyone else.

Its part of the game . . . for now at least.

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#106 kgo
September 12 2011, 10:03PM
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Lots of NHLers don't have their grade 10....and probably wouldn't read this whole letter

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#107 rindog
September 12 2011, 11:33PM
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PopsTwitTar wrote:

"It's a part of the game. The deaths this summer...blahblahblah...Deal with it."

Really, the one who needs to "deal" with something is you. There is a growing movement among fans (and others in *real* positions of power in the sport) questioning what role fighting has in hockey - whether fighting is, in fact, "part of the game".

Does it change momentum? Does it build team unity? Does it protect against cheap shots? Does it actually impact winning and losing?

And once people start looking into those issue, they will inevitably be left with one conclusion:

"We don't see any reason for allowing fighting, because it contributes nothing to winning a hockey game."

And then all that's left is a sideshow to a hockey game that will be eliminated. Don't know how this process will take, but it is inevitable.

Last time I checked - elbowing, highsticking, spearing, holding, etc do not contribute anything to winning hockey games either. If you commit a foul - you are penalized.

A fight is a foul and is subsequently penalized. If you want to change the severity of the penalty, different story.

As others of have posted - there must be a reason enforcers make the NHL, otherwise they wouldn't be getting paid millions of dollars to be there.

Pretty hard to get around that fact.

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#108 rindog
September 12 2011, 11:48PM
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RossCreekNation wrote:

Fighting has a place in the game.

There. I said it.

Temper's flare, emotions run wild, and things happen in the heat of the moment.

If Darcy Tucker takes a run at Michael Peca and clips his knee in the process, I have no problem with Arron Asham coming over and scrapping Tucker (loosely based on actual events).

If Jarome Iginla & Vinny Lecavalier, or Ryan Getzlaf & Joe Thornton want to have a scrap over the course of a 7 game series, all the power to them. There is a reason. It serves a purpose.

What I am tired of seeing - and this has changed for me, and I think many others on BOTH sides of the fighting debate can agree - is the super-heavyweights on either team squaring off every 2 or 3 or 4 games. It no longer serves a purpose (if it ever did). The 6"5", 240lb. "knuckle-dragger", or the 6'7", 255lb. "dancing bear" has run its course. The game does not need those guys. Steve MacIntyre may be a great guy off the ice, someone you really want to pull for once talking to him, but he doesn't belong ANYWHERE near the NHL. I think he proved that rather well over the last couple seasons. Yet he got a new contract. Why?

And there's others: Trevor Gillies saw an average of 3:04 of ice time in 39 games (less than 2 hours of total ice time over the course of the season); David Koci saw an average of 4:05 over 35 games; Derek Boogaard & Wade Belak both saw less than 5:00 on average.

These types of players have become extinct in my mind. If a guy can't play say at least 8-10 minutes on average, he probably doesn't belong in the league. If he can barely skate, turns like a battleship, and handles the puck like a grenade, he probably doesn't belong in the league.

This is where I get frustrated. It's not fighting as a whole that should be targeted by the anti-fight crowd. The true target, in my opinion, should be the "goon".

-In 76 games, Kyle Clifford had 7-7-14 and 141 PIMs (18 fights) while averaging 9:30 per game. In his rookie season. To me, he is an effective player.

-In 79 games, Shawn Thornon had 10-10-20 and 122 PIMs while averaging 10:04 per game. He had 14 fights. Effective player.

-Brandon Prust had 13-16-29 and 160 PIMs (18 fights) while averaging 13:48 per game. He played all 82 games. Effective player.

These are but a few examples on either side of the fence.

I am pro-fighting. I am anti-goon. Let's not get confused here - fighting has a place in the game... "dancing bears" do not.

Except if having one of these "enforcers" playing a few minutes means you can get your skilled guys more icetime...

I know it will never happen, but the game would be much better if you eliminated 2 forward positions on the playing roster. You could still keep the same amount of guys on the active roster (so the NHLPA wouldn't freak out about losing jobs), but there wouldnt be room to dress a Goddard or Gillies if they cant play.

That being said, the way the rosters are now - I like the idea of having a 4th line of specialized players (maybe an enforcer, a PK/Faceoff specialist and maybe even a defensively weak PP guy).

The way I see it, with a guy like McIntyre in the line-up on RW that gives more icetime to skilled RW like Hemsky and Eberle.

With TV timeouts, improvements in conditioning, etc - there is no reason why 10 forwards couldn't play during any given game.

People will argue that fewer players means a greater chance of injury, etc. Every team will be in the same baot and teams will still have the same active roster size to replace any player that may become injured or fatigued throughout the season.

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#109 I am the Liquor
September 13 2011, 12:42AM
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Perhaps we should remove hitting from the game too? Then the fans can see even more of the star players as the injury rate will drop off to next to nothing.

After all, Ive done some research, and there is no evidence that body checking actually helps teams win games.

Just a thought.

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#110 Oilcruzer
September 13 2011, 06:12AM
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These are pre-season games involving a broad cross section of talents among rookies.

Unlike the all star game. Unlike the junior prospects game. These are pre season, exhibition games for ALL noobs.

Exhibition games exhibit talents. Fighting, checking, passing, hitting, face-offs, PK, theses are all skills to exhibit. (Oh and also passing, shooting, scoring, and for most goalies, saving. )

Fighting happens in pre season, regular season, and playoffs.

Let's not kid ourselves, this isn't an all star game.

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#111 meli
September 13 2011, 07:57AM
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Jesus, it's like people take a look at the words "There shouldn't be fighting..." and immediately drag out the same lame arguments ("LOL let's ban hitting too" "hockey is a MAN'S game asdf"). I'm sick of these prospect fights, and I appreciated this article.

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#112 madjam
September 13 2011, 09:32AM
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JOB Opening - Temporary player specialists needed for Temp workload that could lead to more fulltime . Large pay and benefits consumant with use , and may be at more than one venue or team . Some minor league training may be necessary . Are you a team player even if only a temp one ?

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#113 Oilcruzer
September 13 2011, 09:41AM
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@meli

These aren't prospect games however... These kids are already chosen, (for the most part - there are walk ons.). It's a prelude to allocation. Time to show your talents, all of them.

I appreciate the article as well.

It generates opinions and discussion.

They are doing their best, sometimes poorly, at showcasing their skills. Some are proving they are not great skill players.

And, some of these fights are lame. Some are proving they are, and some are proving they are not, bringing other attributes to the table.

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#114 I am the Liquor
September 13 2011, 11:11AM
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meli wrote:

Jesus, it's like people take a look at the words "There shouldn't be fighting..." and immediately drag out the same lame arguments ("LOL let's ban hitting too" "hockey is a MAN'S game asdf"). I'm sick of these prospect fights, and I appreciated this article.

These players are fighting for jobs. Literally. Fighting in training camps (that is essentially what this is) are commonplace and have been happening for years and years.

And yes, the bleeding heart gang will look to remove body checking from the game if and when fighting is ever banned from the sport.

Its already happening with the "head shot" rules that have been brought in. Im all for protecting players, and personally I could do without fighting, especially the staged fights, but if you dont think there are those actively considering changing the game then you havent been paying attention.

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#115 sofarsogood
September 13 2011, 12:49PM
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Wow, I went straight for the comment section after this read. Whats next, no hitting. That hurts more players than fighting. Try to eliminate staged fights, no more. If you can play hockey, fight all you want.

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#116 mayorpoop
September 13 2011, 12:54PM
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sofarsogood wrote:

Wow, I went straight for the comment section after this read. Whats next, no hitting. That hurts more players than fighting. Try to eliminate staged fights, no more. If you can play hockey, fight all you want.

that line of reasoning is ambitious. it takes alot of work to make that jump from fighting in rookie camps to no hitting in NHL, but you've done it and i commmend you for how illogical it is.

when people discuss fighting or headshots they do not, DO NOT (for clarification), say eliminate hitting.

this is not a stretching contest.

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#117 I am the Liquor
September 13 2011, 03:12PM
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@mayorpoop

In the space of a year we have gone from nothing to no headshots under certain conditions, to talk of no headshots period of any kind, to removing fighting from the game.

That is a pretty sizeable shift in philosophy. Its not "stretching" much at all to suggest that taking the ban on further incidents/types of body contact may be on the horizon.

Especially if Crosby has an abbreviated career.

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#118 mayorpoop
September 13 2011, 03:53PM
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@I am the Liquor

the shift may seem quick and large but to some extent in regards to headshots they are simply enforcing rules already in place.

seeing what we see and knowing what we know is it not at least advisable to talk about things?

i would not suggest remove hitting (headshots yes) from the game but i would be remiss to at least not discuss fighting, equipment, etc.

it is clear to me that cam charron did not say anything in this piece about removing hitting and the insuation that he is...that is a "stretch".

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#119 I am the Liquor
September 13 2011, 04:08PM
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@mayorpoop

Removing hitting from the game is really no more preposturous than what the author is proposing with this article.

Its a knee-jerk reaction to an unfortunate incident that happened a couple of days ago.

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#120 mayorpoop
September 13 2011, 04:17PM
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@I am the Liquor

i suppose it is simply a point of view. i don't see it that way but i can understand how some want to.

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