CHECK YOUR LID AT THE DOOR

Brian Sutherby
September 20 2013 12:35PM

Last night in New Jersey marked the first time you saw two players in a National Hockey League game circumvent the new rule where a player cannot remove his own helmet prior to a fight. Instead Brett Gallant and Krys Barch politely removed each other’s before throwing punches.

As a guy that didnt find myself in too many fights just for the sake of fighting I did find this gesture a tad foolish. If I was in a fight it was because someone generally did something to me or a teammate that I was fired up about. I wouldn’t have had the patience to wait and not punch my opponent in the chops.

In saying that, these guys are on a completely different level of enforcing and I’m glad I had guys like Krys Barch willing to do the dirtiest work so that I didn’t have to.

With this recent controversy, comes with it all the boo birds saying fighting has no place in hockey anymore or that these one dimensional “goons” shouldn’t be a part of the game.

I for one can tell you that if you saw Krys Barch practice or had the chance to play a shinny game with him, you would think he was a 30 goal scorer in the NHL. His skills are that good. Krys plays a role and knows his role very well but it’s not his toe drag that keeps him in the league. Many of these guys are far better hockey players than given credit for. Anyone that is a teammate of Krys’ or any “enforcer” for that matter is thankful to have these types of guys on their team.

PLAYERS VOTE

Does anyone think it’s strange now a days that you have all these people with a voice on twitter and the internet that say fighting has no place in the game or it should be out of the game, yet 98% of the players want to keep fighting in the game?

We’re not talking 50%; we’re not talking only the 135 players that had more than 1 fight last year per hockeyfights.com.

In 2012 a poll of NHL players found that 98% of players want fighting left in the game.

WHY?

It serves a very important purpose. Along with skill and puck possession and goaltending this is a contact sport that requires character, toughness and guys willing to pay the price to win a hockey game. With that comes a little thing called intimidation.

If there is no one on your team to protect guys or your team doesn’t have a couple guys willing to go get pounded for their teammates, then a skill guy has to worry if so and so is going to be abusing him all night or running him all game and he’s not able to feel as comfortable on the ice. It’s really as simple as that, but many don’t seem to grasp the concept.

There is very much a game with in the game when it comes to fighting and it doesn’t always even mean there is a fight. The mental side of it and the intimidation of knowing that player X is on the bench if I decide to give Crosby a shot here, or the feeling of hey it’s an easy night this guy isn’t dressed I can run around a little more are all factors and head games that just the presence of a tough guy can have.

There are a few that it probably never affects, but most players are lying if they tell you that they are not concerned with who the other team dresses.

Is it always a deterrent? Does it stop all the idiots?

No, but you also can’t see the things it prevents because they didn’t happen.

FIXING THE RULE

Although I didn’t care for the helmet gesture and I imagine you will see something shortly from NHL Head Office about players not being able to undo their chin straps, I hate hearing with each passing rule and year why fighting shouldn’t be a part of the game. The element of fighting has a positive impact on the game whether you get it or not.

We are all big boys and are aware of the physical consequences we risk by playing a game we love.

C76a4c69c9026575581a01d4ac34111c
A Moose Jaw Warriors alumnus and veteran of 460 NHL games with the Capitals, Ducks and Stars—Sutherby is here to regale us with tales of the WJHC, life as an NHL player and much more from a Pro’s perspective. Co-Host's the Jason Gregor show on TSN1260 on Tuesday's from 3-5 and Coaches at www.proconnectionhockey.com Twitter:@briansutherby
Avatar
#51 Professor Q
September 20 2013, 08:46PM
Trash it!
4
trashes
Props
4
props

@Professor Q

Nicely done. Clap. Clap. Clap.

Avatar
#52 Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach
September 20 2013, 01:08PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
0
props
Brian Sutherby wrote:

Very much so and the remaining last 5 minute instigator rule

Is there a reason the PA hasn't fought to get rid of it? I assume it's probably a legal thing, but I never really hear whether that is the reason or not.

Avatar
#53 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
September 20 2013, 03:10PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
3
props
Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things wrote:

This is an interesting response.

What if you have a lot of confidence in yourself as a fighter? SMac is one hell of a fighter, and he knows it. With no instigator he can take cheap shots at whomever he likes if he knows that the only consequence is a fight with someone who he's going to destroy anyway.

It was directed at those players like Matt Cooke, Alex Burrows, Sean Avery and all the other cheap shot artists, not just the "Goons". Guys would be more "respectful" to the opposition ( ie: keeping your stick down, not slew-footing, etc ) if they KNEW there was a price to pay.

Avatar
#54 nunyour
September 20 2013, 03:32PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
6
props

There should be no fighting,swearing,or spitting.

Avatar
#55 Tikkanese
September 20 2013, 03:49PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
4
props
Brian Sutherby wrote:

My intent with the article was not to pit "stats" guys vs whoever else is of a certain opinion. Although if people share this opinion then I agree with you "because you have trouble qualifying it with advance stats' doesn't mean that it doesn't serve a purpose"

I like stats

I admit that I did not write that as well as I should have. I wasn't trying to pit all "stats guys" vs "those that think fighting belong", but it came out that way I suppose. I just accidently lumped all those completely against fighting with stats guys in one poorly worded comment.

I like stats as well. I just get fired up on way to many levels when I think of people who are trying to get rid of all fighting in hockey and got all excited by your excellent article which I 100% agreed with.

Avatar
#56 Bezer
September 20 2013, 04:40PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
4
props

I feel like this is the hockey world's version of the Evolution Vs. Religion debate.

My take is keep fighting, it's part of the game. You can word it anyway you want but intimidation and feeding emotion through fighting can have a profound effect(or is it affect) on the game.

I know it is hard to quantify and qualify fighting stats wise but when hockey players give testimonials on how a certain fight turned the tide of the game. Like Talbot-Carcillo in the 2009 playoffs, Pens down 3-0 and Talbot challenges Carcillo and just gets crushed but then the Pens come back and win the game then the series then the cup. Sydney Crosby did an interview and said it inspired him and the team.

If 98 percent of the NHL players came out and said get rid of fighting then there is defiantly an issue but at this point it isn't.

P.S. Even though I like fighting in the game I also like advanced stats.. they both have a place in the game.

Avatar
#57 Jeff In Lethbridge
September 20 2013, 07:16PM
Trash it!
3
trashes
Props
3
props

not a big fan of the dancing bears... them i could do without...

Avatar
#58 Derzie
September 20 2013, 12:48PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
16
props

I've always got time for player perspectives. Makes good sense. That said, the instigator rule is puzzling. Disarms the protectors a lot I would think.

Avatar
#59 Giant
September 20 2013, 12:59PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
5
props

Very well said sir. Very well said.

Avatar
#60 RexLibris
September 20 2013, 02:06PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
2
props

I've never been a fan of goons - the guys who fight in staged affairs - nor the thugs who take cheap shots that put other players' careers at risk, regardless of whether they "answer the bell" or not.

That being said, I don't think fighting can come out of the game. I love hockey, but the game is imperfect and enforcement does not always equal offense. Therefore it requires an imperfect response.

I wish all it took to keep players from being run and targeted with knee-on-knee hits and headshots was dressing a nuclear deterrent and sitting him on the end of the bench. Obviously it isn't, but doing away with fighting won't solve the other problem.

It may not be a true solution, but it is the only one at hand and until the league and players can figure out how to play an aggressive game safely, it will have to remain.

Avatar
#61 hockeycrazed
September 20 2013, 02:20PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
1
props

It's a good idea to employ toughness like a 'SemenHead', that his presence alone is enough to discourage goons from dishing cheap shots at Wayne! By all means go foe it!! And it's bonus if he chips in with a score once in a while!

Avatar
#62 thebiggestmanintheworld
September 20 2013, 02:47PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
8
props

Better refs would go a long way in cleaning the game up.

With how the game has evolved (bigger, faster, stronger, etc), what changes to officiating have helped improve the quality of the game?

Avatar
#63 backburner
September 20 2013, 04:18PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
5
props

Nobody would ever think of taking hitting out of the game.. yet, what I don't understand is with all the rules created to make the game more safe, and adjustments to equipment (visors), Concussions/ injuries are actually on the rise!?

The physicality of the game is just being redirected. Out of all the times Raffi Torres has been fined or suspended, do you think he's learned his lesson?

I've always thought that fighting was a way of actually protecting one's self and eachother.. If there is a problem, drop the gloves, and deal with it.. In my opinion Goons aren' necessary because they're ARE NOT intimidating anymore.. but if you take out fighting, your are taking away the only thing a guy has to protect or stand up for himself.

Avatar
#64 ubermiguel
September 20 2013, 04:27PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
5
props
Ducey wrote:

Is it always a deterrent? Does it stop all the idiots? No, but you also can’t see the things it prevents because they didn’t happen.

My house hasn't been broken into; must be that the garden gnome is preventing it. After all, you can't see the thefts it prevents because they didn't happen.

Ducey, I want to buy your gnome.

Avatar
#65 lostdog82
September 20 2013, 05:38PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
4
props

The days of skill less fighters is almost completely over in the NHL. If fights happen now its for a reason. Its the way that the players continue to police themselves with out resorting to stick work. The benches erupt as do the large majority of fans when a fight breaks out. Long live NHL scraps.

Avatar
#66 Wonger
September 20 2013, 08:08PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
1
props
madjam wrote:

Fighting has not been eliminated , but has been transformed into a different form . The big player with little to no hockey skill has basically been eliminated , and that's a positive thing . Intimidation still reigns supreme and physical contact still remains at a high level . Retaliation used to be the penalized one , but now instigation of fight has counter balanced that . Seems rather fitting and a small consulation , I suppose . All sports are taking steps to eliminate as much head shots as possible without disrupting too much of the integrity/physicality of any sport . The less star players are injured , the better for all fans . You still need a deterrent preventing your team members getting run all the time - something we are not overly blessed with as yet .

This sounds reasonable to me. I appreciate the Flames high skill level! I understand the importance of toughness and feel the Flames have plenty of everything in their lineup. However, isn't McGrattan redundant? Jackman and Bouma fill the 4th line role perfectly and are way more skilled! Wouldn't a SOFT team like the Oilers benefit more with a McGrattan type of player than the Flames do?

Avatar
#67 Romulus' Apotheosis
September 20 2013, 10:17PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
2
props
Brian Sutherby wrote:

1. "Staged" fights no, so how do you prevent them?

2. If the NHL can make every team rid themselves of all physicality then yes.

Until then, no. You need players to surround your best players or even the players you expect to play with an edge with guys that will do the dirty work and make them feel comfortable doing their job

Thanks for hanging out with us.

I completely appreciate this answer and where it is coming from.

That said, I still think you are creating unnecessary dichotomies though.

1. I think you can go a long way by having GMs like MacT that recognize the "game has changed," that "size/toughness whathaveyou" needs to complement skill and that to take a roster spot you have to be at least a modest threat to score. Pairing that with a Coach like Eakins who echoed that the other day goes a long way.

Setting the bar for roster spots (GM) and TOI (coach) at being able to play the game (ie., not bleed chances when on the ice, drive puck possession, etc) is a great way to end this kind of thing. There won't be anyone left to "perform" in this limited capacity.

2. There is no either/or situation here. We don't need to get rid of all physicality, to do without a pure enforcer.

We can all think of numerous hockey players who play on a nightly basis, throw a lot of hits, are tough to play against, etc. who rarely drop the gloves. They aren't going anywhere.

I love fighting in hockey and I believe people when they say there is a benefit to having toughness on the bench. I have no interest in taking that away.

I do have an interest in ridding the game of staged fights and the tiny minority of extremely limited hockey players.

Avatar
#69 Spydyr
September 21 2013, 11:05AM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
2
props
BM wrote:

The day hockey loses physicality and intimidation as an inherent element of the sport (as it's always been), is the day I stop watching. It's not about fighting, it's about a continual battle for time and space. And hey...if two guys get pissed off at each other, drop the mits and settle it properly. Good article Brian.

I agree.Fighting has always been and should always be part of hockey.If you don't like it go watch women's hockey or figure skating.

Avatar
#70 Avatarget
September 21 2013, 01:06PM
Trash it!
2
trashes
Props
2
props
ColourMeImpressed wrote:

What pisses me off about the anti-fighting crowd is that when a fight's going on at an arena, everyone is cheering.

Yet somehow the NHL and broadcaster are always talking about how nobody likes fighting.

People often like to watch other people do dangerous things. Just because it is entertaining doesn't make it right. People used to cheer like crazy watching Gladiators fight it out on the sands of the collosseum too. Pornography is immensely popular but it is probably not the best thing for the young "actors" in those flicks. Heck, people will even cheer like crazy watching a schoolyard fight. The examples of people's baser instincts when it comes to entertainment are nearly endless. The point is that there is a moral highground where the saftey of the players should take precedence over the "thrill" of the audience.

For years the argument that fighting in hockey was just part of the game and that noone really got hurt was used to justify the crowd's enjoyment of the action. Recent information on brain injuries and the long term effects of concussions have finally driven the last nail into that coffin. Young men get hurt fighting for our entertainment and for that reason it is finally time to admit that the rules need to be changed.

The penalty for fighting needs to be upgraded. In most sports players who get into a fight are ejected from the game. That is enough to curb fighting in baseball, football, basketball and most other major sports to the point where fights are a rare occurrence and few serious injuries result. It is time for Hockey to join the 21st century.

Avatar
#72 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
September 20 2013, 02:20PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
4
props

Brian, you need to join Struds on his radio show. Then take the studs & duds section from That's Hockey. Struds and Suds studs & duds!

...yeah, slow day at work.

Avatar
#73 Oil Kings 'n' Pretty Things
September 20 2013, 02:21PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
3
props
Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate wrote:

Drop the gloves and go

Lose the instigator rule

Keeps the game cleaner*

*IF you KNOW you're gonna get your ass handed to you, you aren't gonna take cheap shots...period.

This is an interesting response.

What if you have a lot of confidence in yourself as a fighter? SMac is one hell of a fighter, and he knows it. With no instigator he can take cheap shots at whomever he likes if he knows that the only consequence is a fight with someone who he's going to destroy anyway.

Avatar
#74 Frank the dog
September 20 2013, 02:44PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
6
props

Enforcing the rules makes a game cleaner, right? Like in the playoffs?

Avatar
#75 Kevin McCartney
September 20 2013, 02:56PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
3
props

Interesting read, Brian - I'm enjoying your stuff.

I have one question that always sticks in my brain when we talk about enforcers and their role.

If Barch has that kind of skill (and I believe that there are probably a bunch of enforcers who could impress that way), why doesn't the team use him differently? Why can't he play hockey and then enforce (as the scary, large man he is) when a pest goes too far or someone is spearing the goalie? Why have staged fights against other men with outrageous pain thresholds?

I don't think fighting has to be out of the game at all - but I don't understand why a team wouldn't want to optimize their roster such that Barch is used to score 10 goals and have 10 fights, instead of 0 goals and 20 fights. Any thoughts?

Avatar
#76 Oilers G- Nations Poet Laureate
September 20 2013, 03:07PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
7
props
rubbertrout wrote:

Yeah nobody did anything dirty back in the old days.

Hardly.

yeah, but then Semenko would deal with your indiscretions

Avatar
#78 master of my domain
September 20 2013, 05:09PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
4
props

I think they need to make a rule about the wrestling takedowns in fights, guys are injured from hitting their heads on the ice more than anything. let the guys fight toe to toe, but this isn't MMA.

Avatar
#79 steelymac
September 20 2013, 07:08PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
1
props

@Next up, is Connor McJesus.

Flip Flop here was really hoping you had atleast 4 or 5 more days left on your deck.

Avatar
#80 Mironovs Nose
September 20 2013, 08:34PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
8
props

I'd just like to reiterate a distinction that other commenters have made because I think that it's very important.

I have heard very few people advocate completely removing fighting from the game and a large number who would like to see goons out of the game.

Did Wendel Clark protect Doug Gilmour? Absolutely. He played on his wing and went after anyone who touched him, and he could go after anyone because he was a 1st line player.

Does Colton Orr protect Nazem Kadri? I don't see how he could from the bench, especially when he's really only going to start something with another goon. Nazem says he feels safer and braver with Orr on the team though so I guess that counts for something.

Avatar
#81 Oilpan
September 21 2013, 10:29AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
2
props
drdoogie wrote:

Oil pan, what an original handle your sheltered northern Alberta education came up with. Really?? Someone from Edmonchuk taking a shot at any other place on the planet? That pretty much sums up why anyone with a pea brain should not be allowed to post. Looking forward to your witless response.

Is that all you got? Still Lmfao! Clown!

Avatar
#82 BM
September 21 2013, 10:38AM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
4
props

The day hockey loses physicality and intimidation as an inherent element of the sport (as it's always been), is the day I stop watching. It's not about fighting, it's about a continual battle for time and space. And hey...if two guys get pissed off at each other, drop the mits and settle it properly. Good article Brian.

Avatar
#83 Fartley Bob
September 21 2013, 04:51PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
1
props

@Oilpan

OILPAN FoR PRIMEMINISTER!!!

Avatar
#84 JChecks
September 21 2013, 05:50PM
Trash it!
1
trashes
Props
0
props

A re-occuring theme keeps poping up in this thread.But nobody has come out and said it.Hockey is about "entertainment" plain and simple. The one diemensional player has been phased out of the game to let the highly skilled players do there thing,ya gotta love that. But the last thing I'd want to see is a bunch of Crosby clones playing pond hockey. Don't get me wrong,I'm not trashin Sid.But as a former player,there's no doubt in my mind that big hits and the odd scrap can change the tempo of the game.Which inturn, adds another dimension to the sport for both players and fans alike. As for the head injury defence,I'm not buying it or even renting it.For the simple fact that, as I approach my mid life I believe I'm suffering from "a chronic rattling of the bean." When I played,I laid out big hits and earned the nick name,Alice the Goon.But never once dropped the gloves.And then there was the odd school yard scrap,car crash,motocross wipe out and work place misshap. That in the end, I'm shure has took there toll. Lets face it, chronic head injury is not just a problem for the hockey enforcer.It's just there high profile roles that is bringing this important issue to light. TO vs Sabes,helmets just hit the ice,latter guys.

Avatar
#91 nunyour
September 21 2013, 11:41AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Brian Sutherby wrote:

I think we are on the same page here.

I have said in previous posts I don't care for staged fighting, I said in the piece I did not care for the taking off of each others helmets. It was stupid and of course like everyone I think having a guy that can actually skate, hit and chip in offensively while being able to take care of teammates is the player a teams needs/wants. The problem is there are not that many guys to go around.

But if a team can find one that's the type of player you want.

There's no shortage of internet tough guys.

Avatar
#92 Romulus' Apotheosis
September 21 2013, 12:46PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props
Brian Sutherby wrote:

I think we are on the same page here.

I have said in previous posts I don't care for staged fighting, I said in the piece I did not care for the taking off of each others helmets. It was stupid and of course like everyone I think having a guy that can actually skate, hit and chip in offensively while being able to take care of teammates is the player a teams needs/wants. The problem is there are not that many guys to go around.

But if a team can find one that's the type of player you want.

Awesome.

I really think this entire argument (not just as expressed by you or I) gets bogged down by hyperventilated framing, whether its the "mommy blogger" type trying to bubble wrap everyone or the "meathead" type trying kill everything that moves.

As an instructive exercise I think it is useful to look at the kind of players and the range of skills deployed on the fourth lines of the LAK and the Leafs.

One team iced big, intimidating players who crunched the opposition while keeping the puck at the other end of the rink and rarely dropped the gloves.

The other team iced big, intimidating players who crunched the opposition while chasing after the puck in their own zone and getting in tons of fights.

I know how I'd try to build my team.

Avatar
#93 Jeff In Lethbridge
September 22 2013, 08:33AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props

good people of this forum, rule number 1: DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS... they will eventually die from lack of attention

Avatar
#94 Captain Ron
September 22 2013, 01:15PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
0
props
Oilpan wrote:

Like I thought, another genious Flame fan. Don't break your leg jumping off that bandwagon. Good thing you got Sven Baertchi or whatever his name is to carry the load. Hey, here's and idea. Why don't you trade for another lunkhead like Ivanins? MacT would sign Macintire just for one game to knock him back to Europia 'cause that's all it would take. Better yet, bring back Lanny McDonald and we'll have someone grab him by that goofball mustache and pull it so far over his head he'll be able to smell his own farts. You monkeys are in for a world of hurt. Get used to smelling crap 'cause you' gonna be at the bottom of the toilet bowl for a long time.

Har dee har har!

Clowns!

So you want to hang your hat on McIntyre vs Ivanans? Go right ahead. You do understand he did us a favor at the time right?

By the way it was a pleasure beating your highly skilled squad in the last game of the season at Rexall with our AHL team.

You "might" be able to beak at us one day but that time hasn't arrived yet. I hope the Oil finally start living up to their expectations. Beating up on your squad 15 or so out of the last 20 meetings has become boring anyway.

The Oil finished a couple of points ahead of our rag tag group last year and we had some of the worst goaltending in the league.

Your post was pretty funny though!

Avatar
#95 DRUDS
September 23 2013, 01:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
1
props

@Oilpan

Oh Man Oilpan made me LMAO...holy crap I love the Lanny Macdonald shot....I am soooooo sick of the bending and scraping that people do whenever the walking 'stach' comes around.....all that dude had was a unwashed corn husk under his huge beak and a helmet that had originally been made for Marvin the Martian on looney tunes.

Comments are closed for this article.