A little bit too Eager

Friday night, Edmonton Oilers forward Ben Eager got into an altercation with a doorman at a bar in Toronto. Details are a little slim and I don’t really care what happened. Bar fights happen every night all across Canada but when they involve a NHL player, especially during a lock out, it becomes big news.

I have spent some time in bars and I was often challenged by guys in the bar. They wanted to find out how tough I was. I never got into it with any of them. I couldn’t care less what they said or how they acted, there was no way I was going to engage them. Was it because I am a bluffer, or soft? No, those weren’t the reasons I refused to fight.

I am too cheap to get into a bar fight.

That’s right, I was never scared of the physical outcome of a bar fight. I felt the fighting wouldn’t be an issue. I was scared of the long term outcome. You can’t fight your way out of being charged by the police or sued in a civil court of law by a team of lawyers. Hercules himself couldn’t handle all of that.

I have some friends who while playing in the NHL got into a dust up at a bar. They both had to pay. One happened in the states and one was in Canada.

The lawyers’ costs add up in a hurry! I don’t know of any lawyers that work these types of cases for free. The clock is always ticking and so is the meter. I couldn’t believe the lawyer bills these guys had to pay!

Opening yourself up to a civil suit is not a good idea. You can never predict the outcome and that makes it scary. When a big strong hockey player is involved in a bar fight it probably isn’t too hard for a lawyer to convince the judge it is all his fault and not the doorman’s.

I hope for Ben’s sake I am wrong and this doesn’t cost him some focus to get playing the way he can or big bucks. He wants to have a big rebound year and contribute the way I know he can for the Oilers. I played against him many times and he is very hard to play against. This is a distraction he doesn’t need.

So far So good….

Justin Schultz has gotten off to a good start in Oklahoma. Yesterday he was named the AHL player of the week. The offensive side of his play was never a question for many. It was the defensive side that needed some refining.

He scored a couple of shorthanded goals this past weekend. Obviously that is good but what I like about it is it means he is killing penalties regularly. If I were the Oiler brass I would have OKC head coach Toad Nelson play Schultz on the top penalty killing unit and against the other teams’ top lines.

Justin needs to play those tough minutes. The jump from college to professional hockey is tough for a couple of reasons. First, the most obvious, is the competition has higher skill and is bigger. As he progresses from college to the AHL to the NHL he will have to learn some defensive tricks that only come through trial and error.

The second issue is the amount of games. The college schedule is a little more than half what the pro level is at. This is an adjustment that only experience can teach. Although being in shape is important, learning how to handle the grind is something he will just need to go through.

DJ Suitcase

Just so you all know: I didn’t pick this name, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Old Gregor hammers me again! This will be a very fun night and it supports the inner city children’s program, a charity I have been working with for five years. Buy a ticket to support ICCP and come and say hi.

Previously by Jason Strudwick

  • OilDoug


    If Eager is convicted of assault he needs to go. Thats’s crossing the line and a price needs to be paid. To play in the NHL is a privledge not a right.

    • Karth

      Holy self righteous much. Relax buds. Players have played in the NHL after killing people while DUI. I seem to remember we tried to get one just a few years ago.

      There is also a really good QB playing right now that drowned puppies. We have courts and a system of justice in place for a reason. If he is found guilty let the courts decide the punishment not Dudley do rights, like you.

      If everybody that was found guilty of DUI’s,and assault lost their job, then Edmonton’s unemployment rate would be approx 50%. LOL.

      • GiftedGregerius

        Just to clarify, the player you are refering to is Heatly right? If my memory serves me right, and it may not, he was not driving under the influence, just at reckless speeds. This is the reason that he was never formally charged with a DUI, because he wasnt’t.. Not that it should make a huge difference, but you should probably check facts before posting stuff like that. Cheers.

        • The Soup Fascist

          Not sure who Karth meant, but he did not mention Heatley. There are others. Look no further than Oiler’s Assistant GM Craig MacTavish during his first stint in the NHL with the Bruins. To (or is it too?) MacT’s credit he owned the incident, did his time, made ammends with the victim’s family and has become a contributing member of the community. And played 11 more years in the NHL.

          Obviously, a tragedy and decision MacT would like to have back, but an example of a guy righting the ship.

          I also agree with Karth’s comment that we need not throw rocks. Not many of us out there who have never made a bad decision or been in the wrong place at the wrong time at least once. Let this thing play out. David S is also correct that there are a lot of D-bags who target pro athletes to make a name for themselves or a buck.

          Edit: Stannton is a faster typist than I.

    • Truth

      No he doesn’t. Assaults a serious thing I concur, but give the guy his second chance. If it was Nuge, Hall, or Ebs, or Yak would you write this? I eagerly wait your response.

  • Struds,

    I don’t meant to be a grammar Nazi, but I think you should put “TOO EAGER” instead of “TO EAGER” in the title. I would bite my tongue, but I figured you might want to fix it being that it is in the title.

  • justDOit

    Now if he can only bag one of his teammate’s wives, Eager will be nominated for the Shane Corson award of merit.

    I wonder how many more NHL chances Ben will get before becoming an Omsk Avangard?

  • I’ve personally seen D-bags in a bar come up to NHL players basically daring them to go. If I recall, Taylor Hall had a guy trolling him on Twitter after he refused to take it outside at the Ranch.

    I guess this is all part of being famous. In Edmonton, where being rich is a bad thing (see Katz, Daryl) there’s tons of insecure dudes just waiting in the weeds to say they punched out a first-round pick or NHL tough guy. It’s a lifetime achievement for them.

    NHL players are WAY tougher than you might think. Hell, Sam Gagner would give most of those losers a rough night. I can’t even imagine what a guy like Eager or Hordichuk would do.

    Not to say there isn’t the odd player who acts like a bigshot (I’ve seen that too), but in general they’re some of the nicest athletes you’ll ever meet.

  • I agree with you on the Schultz comments,Justin needs those critical situations to refine his game under pressure,he is an ultrafast learner and can handle everything he is given and most probably requires that constant challenge to be at his best and involved –we want him to evove as fast as he can handle.

    I understand the points you make regarding players needing to avoid fighting,but avoiding bars is the real solution to the root cause problem.Bank managers dont hang out in Biker clubhouses although technically they could,this is definatly due to their chosen occupation,same rule applies to everyone including hockey players.On that note lets keep in mind that everyone has a different type and length of fuse,so the key is to just not be there to allow it to happen,bars are breeding grounds for violence and liquor isnt always involved as the catalyst–I have seen absolutely sober people get in fights 5 min after walking into a bar–because of their dynamic reactions to stressors,things like bumps,insults,looks,cheeky comments,spilled drinks,there are all kinds of ignition sources,and once instincts are engaged no one knows how fast that fuse will burn,just that it is smoking.
    This is just another life area in which the players need extra attention from the team itself to allow them the skills to act as you can naturally Struds.Some Veterans already do this job but really it is a different type of pros domain,remember Hockey players arent the only people under high performance related stress ,working on the road a lot and moneyed up
    Behavioural managment skills can be effectively taught from outside of the lockerroom as support for the skills already taught by Vets.Really ,getting outside help is just another viable outlet to relieve Vets of a bit of volume in their duties and allowing them to focus on other things ,primarily on-ice player development.I mean I am only guessing here,but it makes some sense I think.

    Thanks for the article it was a great read.

  • Dave Stannton

    @GiftedGregerius: Heatly for sure, but Mac T also served a year in jail (and missed all of 1984-85) for killing someone while behind the wheel drunk when he was a Bruin. I agree that if it’s true (and we should always remember that the onus is on the accuser to prove guilt, not on Eager to prove his innocence), Eager needs to be punished, and severely. Just don’t wanna see any conclusions jumped to before all the facts are known…

  • Dave Stannton

    hear that sound? That’s the sound of Ben eager being shown the door on his way to OKC after the lock out is over.

    The longer the lock out last the better the chance that the Oilers go with a TH or a MP rather than a Ben Eager or Lennart Pettrel. Those guys are playing whereas Eager is doing nothing that will serve his cause.

    IMO. Eager loses his job not because of a bar fight but because TH and MP have the better opportunity to showcase their talents.

  • Truth

    I’ve known a few bouncers (not friends of mine) that would love to scrap an NHL player for the story alone. I could also see a couple of them losing and trying to pull the assualt/civil suit card. Bouncers are paid to use violence when necessary. Often they use violence way more than necessary. And they’re all meatheads. FACT.

    I’ll stand corrected if this truly is a case of Eager preying on an innocent victim, but I sense otherwise.

    Does anyone remember the Duke Lacrosse team’s Rape accusation? The entire school/ community/ team took a hit for years because of some greedy stripper trying to cash in on a bunch of apparent rich kids. It turned out to be obviously false, but the whole notion of innocent until proven guilty is usually lost on the masses.

    • Reg Dunlop

      I am leaning in this direction as well,but I say only 95% are meat heads the odd one is making an honest living-most are simply bullys who get off on beating and bullying drunks,some actually really mess people up and walk because booze always trumps you in court,this has in the past been proven to escalate to murder in many cases.

      A bouncer is not a policeman or an officer of the law,he is a flunky hired to put himself in danger for near minimum wage to get the privilage of getting off on bullying and beating drunks,and being legally protected while doing it.Dont forget I gave the 5% for the normal people doing the job,if you are here reading this –thats probably you,so ease up.

      The rest is Bens issue to deal with,but lets be real about the bouncers–this aint the set of Roadhouse,and most of us who go to busy bars have seen bouncers abuse people–above and beyond simply removing them from the bar.As they say”you pays your money and you takes your chances” every time you walk into a bar.Everyone over 18 knows this.And I knew a few bouncers in my youth,lots of people did,there are a lot of bars out there.So what they would say the same thing I say now,in fact all the guys I knew actually quit drinking after bouncing at bars,they realised how vulnerable they were when drunk–and no one really stuck with the job.

  • Truth

    Oildoug, if hes got other priors then I may agree with you, and we need to wait till the dust settles. I never jump to conclusion. When I hear bar, bouncer, hockey player, I look at it as two guys letting off some steam in the alley. Not saying its right, just sometimes these are stories that get to the public that don’t need to .

  • Wax Man Riley

    Let’s also not forget that this is Ben Eager and not Sydney Crosby. The doorman probably didn’t even know that he was an NHL player.

    I’d bet very few of us in here would be able to pick Mark Eaton out in a bar.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Let’s also not forget that this is Ben Eager and not Sydney Crosby. The doorman probably didn’t even know that he was an NHL player.

    I’d bet very few of us in here would be able to pick Mark Eaton out in a bar.

  • Reg Dunlop

    So Strudwick, you don’t fight in bars? Are you chicken? You wanna go?

    @Truth… you refer to ‘greedy strippers’. I thought they all had hearts of gold. Speaking of peelers, the worst bar for fights was at the Kingsway,Pinkys. Brighter than a doctor’s office but if you brushed by someone, it was go time.

    @Sloppy Joe. ‘I don’t meant to be a grammar Nazi’… I don’t MEAN to criticize but they do have Continuing Education classes in english.

  • Reg Dunlop

    I applaud Mr. Eager for staying active and keeping his hands busy during this work stoppage.

    He’s really showing a commitment to turning his game up a notch….

    Cheers Ben!