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Campbell's Cuts: Fighting for jobs

Sadly, the hockey world will have to soldier on the next little while without Andrew Archer or Matt Carkner, whoever the hell they are.

Actually, Archer and Carkner are two players, and we use that term very, very loosely – who have already been hurt in hockey fights this pre-season. But hey, at least they'll be remembered for something.

Archer, a Montreal Canadiens hopeful (and again, we use the term loosely) had his orbital bone broken when he tried to block a Georges Laraque punch with his face in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Matt Carkner, who will never play for the Ottawa Senators, is out six weeks with a broken hand that he suffered in a fight with Riley Cote of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Add to that Josh Gratton of Phoenix breaking his finger in a fight with Sean O'Donnell of Anaheim and Cam Janssen of New Jersey dislocating his shoulder in a bout with Jesse Boulerice of Philadelphia and you have quite an impressive injury list going.

But don't you know, nobody ever gets hurt in hockey fights.

Not only are fighters dropping at an alarming rate, the incidents of pugilism have gone up sharply this pre-season. In 29 games through Sept. 20, there had been 39 fights for an average of 1.34 per game. Compare that to last year's pre-season, when there were just 92 in 105 games for an average 0.88. In 2005-06, there were 111 fights in 108 games for an average of 1.02 per game.

Of the 29 pre-season games so far, there have only been five where there have been no fights.

According to hockeyfights.com, the Philadelphia Flyers lead the league with nine pre-season fights, including three from Cote, who also leads the league.

But for the most part, the fights in the pre-season are even more meaningless than those during the regular season. Many of them are between like-minded lunkheads who will only see real NHL action of the league expands to about 80 teams.

Ken Campbell's Cuts appears regularly only on The Hockey News.com. Want to get the inside edge from Ken himself? You can reach him at kcampbell@thehockeynews.com.

One of THN's senior writers, Ken Campbell gives you insight and opinion on the world of hockey like no one else. Subscribe to The Hockey News to get Ken's expertise delivered to you every issue.

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