Friday, March 23, 2007

Out of touch, so out of touch

The NHL wants to ban fighting. Well, not yet, but it's certainly being tossed about. According to The Toronto Star, the NHL's head disciplinarian, Colin Campbell says
"I'm not afraid now to talk about the fact that we should look at fighting in hockey," said Campbell. "I think if you discussed this even three or four years ago you would have got pooh-poohed out of the game.
Of course, ask any longtime fan what will happen if you take fighting out of the game, and they'll immediately all give a similar answer that will involve the following points:
1. Bleeding of the fanbase, especially in the lower 48.
2. An increase of cheapshots. If you go out and hit a player a little too hard, or in a dirty way, you expect to fight afterwards. Look at the reaction Jordan Tootoo had after he laid out Mike Modano with a beautifully legal hit. I'm still waiting for the suspension of Mike Modano for his axe chopping incident, but my issues with him go deep enough that there will be more on that in the future. Removing the fighting out of the game removes the accountability of the players. Removing accountability will increase cheapshots.
3. An increase of injuries, especially serious ones. You know, the type of injuries that occur when cheapshots increase.

In his article, The Toronto Star's Pierre Lebrun talks about Todd Fedoruk as an example of someone who would be benefiting from a ban on fighting, since Todd was the one stretchered off after a recent fight. If Lebrum ever bothered to talk to Fedoruk, he'd probably get a different answer, since the only reason Fedoruk is in the league is as a fighter. If you take fighting away from him, he loses the abiltiy to make half a million dollars a year for about 5-6 minutes of work a night.

If the NHL wants to curtail injuries, they need to look no further than the rule book they already have. Certainly they call miniscule hooks and holds and trips that never happen, but what's getting more and more prevalent is slashes to the back, and high elbows. Penalties that were majors a few years ago aren't even minors any more. The one penalty that is NEVER called anymore is the pick. It is against the NHL rules to intentionally stand in the way of an opponent moving towards the puck. It's a rule that the referees never call anymore (it should be 2 for interference everytime) unless we're at that magically point in a game when the ref needs to call a penalty and there's a rookie out on the ice (see the Clarkson penalty on Tuesday).

The rules are in place to protect the players. It is something that has been fine-tuned for years and years and years, and is the best thing there is to protect the players. If the NHL is serious about protecting their own players, maybe they should read it once in a while.

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