nhl

Fighting debate renewed in hockey circles

Norton and Tarnasky fight

Norton and Tarnasky fight

3/23/2007 4:38:40 PM

One player on a stretcher shouldn't trigger a debate on fighting in the NHL, according to Brian Burke.

"The notion that because one player got knocked cold in a fight, that's going to touch off a debate about eliminating fighting, to me is silly," said the Anaheim Ducks GM.

The sight of Todd Fedoruk being stretched off the ice after a fight got the NHL's disciplinarian thinking, however.

Colin Campbell, director of hockey operations, told The Canadian Press on Thursday it's time to "ask the question" about fighting.

His comment - and the ugly image of Fedoruk crumpling to the ice - has caused opinions to fly faster than an elite enforcer's fists.


 

"I agree with Collie," said veteran New York Rangers winger Brendan Shanahan. "I don't think it's anything that requires a hurried decision, but there's nothing wrong with looking at it."

Shanahan, with 1,288 career penalty minutes under his belt, is no stranger to dropping the gloves. But like Campbell, he wonders how dangerous the role of enforcer is getting.

"It's the toughest job in hockey and I've got so much respect for guys that do that for a living," Shanahan said. "But I'm also getting worried for them. Because it's not like it used to be, where there is a winner and a loser.

"More often than not there's a winner and then there's a guy who's been beaten up badly, or hurt. I hate to see that. I hated to see Fedoruk the other day."

Fedoruk, by the way, wants everyone to know he's just fine after being KO'd by Rangers tough guy Colton Orr on Wednesday night. And he doesn't understand what all the fuss is about.

"The stretcher and all that was probably blown out of proportion, they were just taking precautions," Fedoruk told CP in an interview Friday. "Obviously I was knocked out, but the day after I was fine. I've got minor concussion symptoms, the biggest injury I got was my knee, which I sprained going down."

So hospital stay behind him, where does Fedoruk stand on fighting?

"Taking fighting out of the game is definitely not a solution," said Fedoruk. "You just can't do it. It's ingrained in the roots of hockey."

Campbell's concern, one shared by many in and around the game reached Friday, is that NHL tough guys are getting so big and strong that they're damaging each other more than ever before.

The underlying fear is that someone may die one day in a hockey fight.

"I think it's possible," acknowledged Fedoruk, who had facial bones smashed in by Derek Boogaard earlier in the season. "You know I think it's something where guys now are 260, 270 pounds, and they're hitting bone on bone. It's getting worse and worse. I don't know if the initial hit is going to kill somebody, but maybe falling to the ice and smacking his head off the ice could do it. I think it's something that you have to take into account now, just because of the size of the guys.

"But with that coming into play, it still comes down to whose choice is it to fight. It's our choice. If that happens to somebody, they consented to fighting, they chose that role."

GM Jim Rutherford of the defending Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes is of two minds on the issue, but leans more towards players protecting their teammates.

"Yes, something bad may happen," he said. "But something bad may happen if you can't fight in the game and guys decide they're going to retaliate with their sticks, and spear guys. Our game is so fast and so intense and so emotional, that one way or another there's going to be incidents. Now is it going to be with your fists, is it going to be running guys from behind?

"If the players know that there's no fighting and there's no retaliation, you can be pretty sure that guys will start running guys from behind along the boards now."

Rutherford fears the game without fighting might be more dangerous.

"Sure you wouldn't want to see somebody die under any circumstances. You don't want to see a guy get one-punched and die. But we're the only sport that has a weapon in their hands," he said. "I think what will happen if you take fighting out of the game, where the players can't protect each other, you are going to start to see more of those (stick) incidents. That's the scary part."

Fellow veteran GM John Muckler of the Ottawa Senators welcomes the debate but doubts taking out fighting is the answer.

"If there is going to be a debate, I'd certainly like to be part of it, and listen to the pros and cons of it - which there would be many of," said Muckler. "I don't think it's an easy thing to decide, one way or the other. I know it plays a certain part in the game, certain people and fans love it. I know hockey people think it plays in our game, too."

Burke, whose Ducks lead the NHL with 65 fighting majors this season, said there should be no debate.

"Fighting has been systematically reduced in the NHL," said Burke, who had Fedoruk in Anaheim and phone him this week to make sure he was OK. "You are more likely now to not see a fight than you are to see one, through instigator penalties, suspensions and fines for fights in the last three minutes of a game. It's been reduced to, in my mind, its proper place. It's no longer utilized as a tactic.

"But the notion that we ever get rid of the players' ability to regulate what happens, is silly to me."

There's no fighting in European hockey or in U.S. college hockey.

"I'm not interested in that," said Burke. "I don't think the players can regulate the amount of contact that occurs on the rink and against whom, like they do in our league. I don't want to expand the role of fighting, I don't want to glorify it, I want the players to be able to do their jobs."

Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, said Friday it's long overdue for the NHL to address fighting.

"Both me personally and the IIHF has never believed that fighting is or should be part of the game," he said. "The best proof is that neither in the Olympics, nor in the world championships or in the World Cup of Hockey there are ever any fights and no teams would imagine to carry a designated goon on a team filled with talented players. Hardly ever are there any fights in Stanley Cup games because the stars take over when the games really matter.

"Pre-arranged fights between two goons are, according to me, revolting."

Fasel asks whether any hockey fan has ever complained about not seeing a fight after a great Olympic game.

"If there are fans who enjoy fighting they should turn to other sports," said Fasel. "Our game should never cater to fans who go to games to see fighting. In an era where hockey has lowered its tolerance on restraining fouls to in order to create a better environment for the stars, we simply cannot tolerate Neanderthal behaviour."

But Buffalo Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters says the NHL needs its enforcers.

"The game is a great game the way it is," said Peters. "The guys that are willing to do that, the guys that drop the gloves know what the risk is, know why they're doing it. I do it for my team and I'm willing to do it.

"What's going to happen if we're gone? Is Daniel Briere going to fight his own battles? Is Chris Drury going to fight his own battles? You have to have someone there to protect your teammates.

"If you do remove it I think you'll see guys run around and take even more liberties."

Edmonton Oilers forward Ethan Moreau agreed.

"It would be a pretty chippy game if you took fighting right out of the game," he said.

Moreau feels the Fedoruk incident makes it look worse than it is.

"It's like boxing. How many guys really get hurt? Or martial arts. How many guys really get hurt in that? Not many, but when they do, it really looks horrible," he said. "It's like a hockey fight.

"When guys do get hurt, it looks bad, but it's a fight, you know? It's not like you're wrestling in your basement. Guys are huge now. That's their objective. They're trying to hurt the other guy. That's what a fight is."

With a file from Robin Brownlee in Edmonton






NO. AUTHOR MESSAGE
1cbjfanjimAndrew Peters is right. THE GAME IS GREAT IS THE ...
2PantiKGEEZ, while were at it, let's get rid of Boxing, K ...
3theemYou hate to see anyone get injured, but in a case ...
4weeezzugh this is soo stupid, "someones going to die fro ...
5Rangers87yea, cause hockeys doin great in america as it is, ...
6gusrockaWhat a joke! That knockout was great. No doubt To ...
7helmetmanBefore removing fighting, remove the instigator ru ...
8drfeelgood77I still like the element of fighting in the game. ...
9blopesAll this because Fedoruk got levelled yet again. ...
10chadrexTake fighting out and say bye bye to NHL, it would ...
11Chipper2It is true about the new NHL. Players are stronge ...
12-Braithwaite-no way u cant get rid of fighting i completly agre ...
13thedestroyerofworldsIf fighting is SO important, then why does it disa ...
14Daniel12I think everyone is overexaggerating, out of the t ...
15blackyif they take fighting out of the game then they ar ...
16thechadisgreatThis is ridiculous....are we seriously sitting her ...
17dsbtColin Campbell needs to get in touch with reality. ...
18jay_ngai19i agree taking fighting out would cause more troub ...
19kruteykruteFedoruk made a great point in a previous column... ...
20kllokanHockey would be destroyed if fighting was taken ou ...
21tosports1This subject is a tricky one, obviously you get th ...
22melia99its just due to the size of todays big men... they ...
23blackravI don't have naything against fighting, but I have ...
24drewg99This league has gone far enough with its new rules ...
25ken9I agree, Daniel Briere and Chris Drury should not ...
26ZiJieThen you have to look at all dangerous actions. I ...
27lunaristYeah take fighting out of the game so we can watch ...
28kempeitaiPersonally, I think fighting should remain in the ...
29hockeyfanatic66fighting is a part of hockey. I cant even believe ...
30Drew3Colin Campbell wants to question fighting? Player ...
31MacT30If the nhl gets rid of fighting, It diminshes the ...
32RedfenrilYou cannot take fighting out of the game no matter ...
33seeweedfighting is part of the NHL!!! not IIHF or the Eur ...
34SensSaintsSoxThat's a great idea, Colie. There is already a tre ...
35pfpI dunno, I love watching fights. But if the risk ...
36JL17If you took fighting out of the game you would get ...
37darksk8er182This is coming from a wild fan (who's team is seco ...
38hootFighting or combat in general can be revolting. Im ...
39RuztyGood. I think the players should just smack each ...
40spudzKeeping fighting in the game. Get rid of the shoo ...
41vjoshi99WORST IDEA EVER! The fighting gives the sport a w ...
42rugbyrulesI love the rough stuff having played rugby and foo ...
43penfan1964It is about time someone in the NHL had the guts a ...
44Dan_Danlol, hockey will suck without fighting. its the en ...
45joebearsonI would not like to see an expansion of the role o ...
46flames2cupOne thing the nhl should consider..No tape what so ...
47nike_guy99In Any Tournament you will not see a fight because ...
48SherpocCome on drop it, a guy gets punched out and all th ...
49gtkakegai've been watching NHL hockey since i was 8 years ...
50tidewater2001Let's hope we never have to resort to a European b ...
51nogg55KEEP FIGHTING IN HOCKEY!!! it is part of the game ...
52acilladonhow stupid of colin campbell to even bring this up ...
53HOJUI guaran-damn-tee that the risk of a death in the ...
54habsguy2i love fighting more than the next guy and i ve be ...
55S-T-KThis is tough to decide in just one season. If the ...
56caper_76As a fan of hockey for 30 years and putting up wit ...
57kraquleBitter Irony... For years now we have seen player ...
58jofa6000I hope they dont take the fighting ou but at the s ...
59TopRtLW76If fighting is ever taken out of hockey, it would ...
60681Didn't they just reduce the punishment for instiga ...
61dstark29Hmm they are worried about someone getting killed ...
62johnm29As arrogant as Burke is, the NHL would be soooo mu ...
63tinkeysersozeTo the IIHF, how many fans do YOU have per capita? ...
64c0mmanderco0lI think its an awesome point that you dont see any ...
65zoromanI am thoroughly disgusted with the geniuses runnin ...
66DL76HERE'S AN ALTERNATIVE TO BANNING FIGHING. ...
67jmac55Get rid of the fights like Orr & Fedoruk, 4 se ...
68vernvohrawhat is with people and this issue..fighting has b ...
69bccavemanonly team sport i know that you fight and only get ...
70whalermarkAs a fan, I used to like fighting in hockey. But n ...
71djswaFighting shouldn't be removed. It has its place, w ...
72djswaIf fighting were banned, how could players let out ...
73stroweSHUT UP ALREADY about fighting. Wow one guy gets c ...
74eyeballs71I think thats just ridiculous... You cant just sto ...
75fergie_26Try to remove car crashing and bumping in NASCAR. ...
76stiffler1000Fighting has ALWAYS been part of hockey, and those ...
77keener101 If your gonna take fighting out, why dont you ju ...
78Z-Fan40To compare the skill level of all players at the o ...
79trefPenalties and suspensions can replace the need for ...
80IRONFISTCassie Campbell said it best... "if you don't like ...
81cottamhabfanHate to say it but I have to agree with Fasel: Pre ...
82sdnunesFor NHL administrators to say that they are helple ...
83mtl_27_27Letting fighters wear gloves is not a bad idea. Wh ...
84djmaWake up and acknowledge that we keep fighting for ...
85derek44If fighting is an ingrained part of hockey then wh ...
86JYPDPlease leave our game alone. Overtime losses shoul ...
87hockeyjayI never used to give much thought to fighting in h ...
88jetsdiehardHitting hurt more players than fighting, so should ...
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