According to ESPN, the Ontario Hockey League is implementing a new rule in regards to fighting in hockey. If a player receives 11 fighting major penalties in a single season, he will receive a 2-game suspension. This, as ESPN's Pierre LeBrun states, is to curb the players with fighting skills and not much else. The NHL will closely be watching this, and you just know that it's only a matter of time before it gets implemented.
First off, I wonder if the count starts over again after the 2-game suspension.
The way of the staged fights is going the dinosaur route, and of course myself being old school and stubborn by nature am kicking and screaming at the notion. But no matter how much us old school, rock 'em sock 'em hockey types gripe, it will change nothing. Staged fighting has decreased
dramatically in the NHL anyway. LeBrun points out a solid stat:
Fact is, fighting has gone down on its own in recent years; last season, there were 546 fights in 1,230 regular-season games, the lowest tally in five years, according to www.hockeyfights.com.
Why dress a fighter, or goon, when his roster spot can be filled with a guy that is more dimensional and can provide a checking role and score some goals. I get it. That's how teams have been doing it especially in the playoffs for quite some time already (right Detroit)? If you see an edge you take it. When that edge works, everybody starts towing the line, and fighting goes down. That's just one example.
I love staged fights. I love watching them. Pure entertainment value. I wanna see a knockout! Simple as that. I love it and f*** you for taking it out of the game that I love. You are not the majority. Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the "pacifists" are outnumbering the old school types. (Oh wait, concussions and player safety blah blah - my bad). Either way, you will eliminate something from the game that will eventually be missed. Oh yeah, it's true. Know why? Because violence sells. Deep down people naturally gravitate towards it. Always have, always will.
Skill is the new cool. Like I said, I get it. But I prefer BOTH in hockey.
The big issue that remains is players "policing" eachother. You know, like Dave Semenko and Marty McSorley were Wayne Gretzky's cops back in the day. Hey, McSorley could play hockey though. And that's where the answer kind of lies in this whole policing bit. You need a cop who can play good hockey. Shawn Thornton. So, the question is, which player(s) are your cops? Which guy protects the Sedins, because they obviously need it occasionally? You want Kevin Bieksa stuck in the penalty box for 5 minutes or more because he rattles some guy's skull who was harassing on or more of our star players? Nah, you need somebody lower on the totem pole with a lesser role. On top of that, whoever these cops are, they can only do that 10 times in a season before suspensions get handed out. Yay? And I can't even get started on the instigator rule slapped on those who defend their buddies through fisticuffs, making defending your mates even more difficult because of the length of the ensuing penalty kill.
So while I accept (grudgingly) that the NHL will soon phase out staged fights, I question the more -skilled enforcer (cops') part of it and the limitations that may bring. No, the limitations it WILL bring, because it's already happening. You can slap a Sedin now. Nobody is going to do anything. You might get a stiff body check down the road but I'll bet that won't deter you from slapping a Sedin again. But I'll bet a hardcore beatdown would.
The NHL will curb staged fights soon enough. The other fighting will follow. Soon, it's ballet, or soccer on ice.
You want it, you got it.