Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Goon Game Gone?

Fighting Way Down:
(scroll down)

Drop of 40% over 2003-04.
Twenty-nine of the 40 games,
or 72.5%, have been fight-free.

There's a feeling among Hockey fight fans and some players that the latest rules regarding fighting in the last five minutes of games is just part of a ongoing effort by the NHL to eliminate fisticuffs entirely from the sport.
Never before has the role of enforcer been in such flux.

Between the instigator rule, which adds a two-minute penalty and a 10-minute misconduct to those who start fights, and a one-game suspension for those instigating in the final five minutes of regulation or in overtime (not to mention a $10,000 fine for the coach), dropping the gloves has become costly.

And with the salary cap complicating personnel decisions, players who bring nothing more to the ice than brass knuckles are luxuries teams cannot afford.
Many seeing the trend in fighting being reduced year by year feel the role of the enforcer may soon be... going... going.... GONE.
Cairns said he's concerned that the NHL's recent legislation is part of a grand scheme to ban fighting.

"I don't think they should," he said. "Instead of trying to hide the fact it's a violent game, we should embrace it, because that's what a lot of fans like about hockey. It's a rough, on-the-edge game."

...Sometimes, Cairns said, when an opponent runs into the goaltender or takes a cheap shot at a star player, the enforcer has no choice but to go after him last five minutes or not.
And of course you have the ever-present self-serving newspaper columnists that like to put their two cents in for eliminating fighting
Nobody has ever retired rich by overestimating the intelligence of NHL mayhem maniacs, whose second-favorite sport is rubber-necking at the scene of a car crash.

Rather than try to win a broader audience through speed and finesse, the league keeps pandering to the same head-banging crowd that passionately believes Whitesnake was the greatest rock band of all time.

Which might explain why hockey is doomed to never be a major-league sport in the USA.
Yeah, right.

Early season fighting stats do indicate fighting is down big time but I think this is mainly due to the state of flux brought on by all the new rules being implemented and players having to deal with a lot of other issues on ice at the moment. Like trying to figure out HOW to play this game now... but for the most part I don't think this new rule will effect fighting much in long run, especially once the teams get deep into the rivalry series the NHL scheduler has set up for them this year where things will tend to get pretty heated. If two guys want to go they still can, even in the last five minutes, the rule only comes into effect in the case of instigation. This is basically the Todd Bertuzzi rule, the NHL's lame reaction to that whole sordid affair.

Cairn's brings up a excellent point though that could pose a huge dilemma for players and coaches. Say your goalie is run big-time by some cheap shot artist late in a game and the guy who did it won't drop his gloves, what do you do? Take the f#@kin punks head off anyway and get fined up the wazzu and suspended along with your coach or do let the jerk skate away?

I guess you wait till the next game and take his head off in the FIRST five minutes instead of the last five. I'm not sure this is what the NHL had in mind when they came up with this particular brain child but I bet it is the way outlaw hockey justice will adapt to the new rule and is handled in the future.

Hmmm, I guess I answered my own question.

GAME RECAPS for 10-11-05

1986-87 - 7.4
2003-04 - 5.1
10/11/5 - 5.3

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