Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Debate on Fighting Continues

  The debate on fighting in hockey was reignited last week after Montreal's George Parros' head hit the ice during an altercation with Toronto's Colton Orr, with Parros suffering a concussion that has knocked him out of the Habs' lineup indefinitely.

  Closer to home, fighting in the Western Hockey League was down approximately 15 per cent in 2012-2013 and compared to the previous season, with much of the credit being given to a new rule that was enacted at the start of the '12-13 campaign.

  "Should a fight occur following a face-off during a game, it will be considered a staged fight.  Should a stage fight occur during a pre-season, regular season or playoff game, the players involved shall each receive an automatic game misconduct in addition to the major penalty.  Should one player clearly initiate or instigate the fight, only that player will receive the game misconduct in addition to a minor penalty  for instigating the fight.  Should the linesmen intervene and prevent the fight from starting, the players involved will each receive misconduct penalties."

  "When we looked at trying to eliminate areas of unnecessary fighting, that was one area we felt we needed to take a tough position on and I think it's been very effective in eliminating those types of situations, staged fight," said WHL commissioner Ron Robison, "Overall, our fighting is down and, if you look at it, it's happening in the flow of the game and in the heat of the battle, those things happen."

  I also asked Brandon Wheat Kings' GM/Coach Kelly McCrimmon to weigh in on the fighting issue late last week.

  "I do feel there is a place for fighting in the game.  I think it helps to keep the rest of the game, probably, a little safer and yet I'm not a fan at all of needless and unnecessary fighting in the game," said McCrimmon, "I think for a casual fan, it's hard to make a staged fight make sense, why two players would square off and fight at the faceoff with nothing, perhaps, precipitating it.  When they game is played hard, there are situations where fights are going to be part of it."

  McCrimmon also added that Western Hockey League teams don't have the luxury of employing players who's main job is to be an enforcer.

  "We're a development league, we don't have roster spots to dedicate solely to people who are going to fight," said McCrimmon, "Our guys have to be able to play and our fourth line players are ordinarily players that are younger guys that we're trying to develop to become top players on our team as they grow older."

  The trend in the WHL is reversing so far this season, with an average of 1.01 fights per game so far in 2013-2014, a number comparable to 2011-2012.

  The 2012-2013 campaign averaged 0.84 fights per contest.

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