Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Okay, Okay, I'm in. Let's talk fisticuffs.

Because suddenly it's the the cool thing to do. Like Livestrong bracelets or Twitter.

Being 'anti-hockey fights'.

Look through the latest columns as your evidence. Charles Gillis' recent column in Maclean's is a perfect example.

I'm not anti-hockey fights.

I've tried to stay out of the fighting debate for quite some time. Every time I hear an argument about fighting, I cringe and I almost bust out the laptop.

Well I'm finally caving — because I need to make some points I haven't really seen. There's your standard arguments that if you take out fighting, the stick infractions and cheap shots will go up.

Don Sanderson, a 21-year-old defenceman with the Whitby Dunlops, lost his life after hitting his head on the ice during a December fight.

But let's take it as it is. A freak accident.

Hockey is an incredibly dangerous sport. There's ice, there's sharp blades (which Richard Zednik can attest to), players carry big sticks, they wear armour, there's a very hard little pick that fits neatly in the orbital bone, and players are super-fit which means they hit harder, they skate harder and they shoot harder.

Freak accidents will happen.

What I think we're missing in this debate about hockey fights is the numbers. Someone needs to look at the amount of fights and figure out the percentage of player injuries resulting directly from fights.

I'd like to bet a good chunk of change that it's not very high.

I'd also like to bet a good chunk of change that the bigger cause of injuries are hits from behind. Or just plain stupidity (like skating around the neutral zone with your head down *cough cough* Eric Lindros ... take a minute to look at the wikipedia entry — it's incredible that he's still alive.)

Okay so people still want it banned.

Let's run with that theory of hitting from behind. That's banned ... per say. Do it enough and you'll be watching some games from the rafters. So implement a suspension for players who fight. So what?

Just like hits from behind, someone could get hurt, but you can't really stop it completely. It's the nature of the game. You'd have to take out hitting to stop that. And that's just stupid.

I've seen a few columnists bring up Todd Bertuzzi's sucker punch on Steve Moore and I cringe at their lack of understanding of the issue. You cannot even bring the Steve Moore and Todd Bertuzzi incident into the equation. That's stand alone. Bertuzzi is kind of a dummy (trying to be nice here) and it would've happened regardless of if there was a "ban" on fighting.

There's this argument that if you take out fighting, eventually the atmosphere and culture of violence will leave the game. HAVE ANY OF THESE PEOPLE EVER WATCHED HOCKEY?

Good god. I'm sorry about the caps lock. But I'm a little upset.

There are a lot of things plaguing the NHL and its players more than the fighting question.

How about behavioral problems off the ice. Give an 18-year-old who may or may not have even bothered to finish high school a million dollars and let him free into the world? Not everyone is responsible like boring Sidney Crosby. I think we know what we're talking about without actually saying it.

Back to my main point: Fighting will never fully go away in the NHL.
Unless players start getting charged for assault by the local authorities.

And that's a slippery slope that nobody wants to go down.

Good Sentence.

From The Canadian Press:

"Non-hockey participants in the recommendations included Football Canada, the NHL, the NHL Players' Association, the OHL, Ontario Hockey Association, Ontario Hockey Federation and a number of medical and therapeutic bodies."

Non-hockey participants, even though the word "hockey" or the initial that represents the word "hockey" is in the sentence five times. Good one.

Can't even function in Russia.

Obviously he's just still miffed about the hat thing. Good ol' Trainwreck Emery. It could only get better if he started dating one of Sean Avery's old girlfriends.

Oft-troubled goaltender Ray Emery has left his Russian hockey club, at least temporarily.

Emery did not report to Mytishchi Atlant following the KHL's break last week, and a source has told ESPN.com that the 26-year-old is upset about salary-related issues. The team has reportedly been using the wrong exchange rate on Emery's $2 million annual wage, and the goalie claims he has been short-changed about 33 per cent of what is owed to him. Mytischchi Atlant is allegedly upset that Emery did not report on Thursday and has threatened legal action.

The sometimes unpredictable backstop has had a very successful year with the team, going 20-6-0 so far with a 2.00 GAA and a .930 save percentage.

Emery made news for an incident in late January when he got into a shoving match with a team trainer who was trying to make him wear a hat.

The Hamilton, Ont. native originally made the trip to Russia after the Ottawa Senators cut all ties with him in June of 2008 following a series of behavioural and performance-related issues.

Emery's absence from his KHL team comes at a time when there is some interest in him from several NHL clubs. But in order for Emery to return to the NHL, he would first have to clear waivers - a condition that could prove complicated considering his strained relationship with the Russian club.

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