No NHL edict directing linesmen to break up fights before they start

Ken Campbell
Dion Phaneuf (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

According to the NHL’s director of hockey operations, linesmen Greg Devorski and Scott Driscoll acted of their own accord when they decided to intervene before Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf could start fighting Tuesday night, and were not following a league edict.

And that’s because there isn’t an edict for them to follow.

There was no shortage of consternation from fans and television analysts when the two linesmen intervened in what everyone assumed would have been a doozy of a fight between Phaneuf and Iginla, former teammates and friends who have attended each other’s weddings. This was not a staged fight, they argued. It was more of an “organic” fight that is much more palatable because it arose from the high emotions of the game. And to be fair, there was a lot of contact and some questionable hits prior to the incident. Read more

Goodbye, NHL enforcers. Believe it or not, I won’t miss you

Derek Dorsett and Brandon Prust.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

There was a time when I watched a hockey game and if there wasn’t a fight I felt ripped off.

I loved a good  scrap; so much so that when Steve Dryden offered me a position at The Hockey News in 1992, I took the job on the condition I would never have to write an anti-fighting story. I was well-aware of Dryden’s stance that there is no place for fighting in hockey and I did not share the sentiment.

How the times have changed. I have not yet completely sided with the anti-fighting movement, but I am close. Very close. I no longer have a thirst to see two huge men pound on each other even though the dinosaur in me understands why the game needs such an outlet.

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AHL drops 12-game suspension on Trevor Gillies; is it enough?

Trevor Gillies (Getty Images)

The American Hockey League came down hard on Adirondack Flames forward Trevor Gillies Monday, suspending him 12 games for viciously assaulting Rochester forward William Carrier Friday. But some would argue they didn’t come down hard enough, and that hockey as a whole still has a ways to go to give real teeth to their punishments and truly dissuade players from becoming repeat offenders like Gillies, who was suspended twice (for a total of 19 games) in his justifiably brief NHL career (57 games from 2009-11). But that doesn’t make it any less stomach churning to watch him snap and smash Carrier’s head into the ice. See for yourself:

Gillies apologized for his actions, but these are now three separate incidents in which he was a genuine danger to his opponents. Here are the examples of what got him suspended in the NHL: Read more

Flyers owner Ed Snider talks mistakes & optimism in exclusive interview

Adam Proteau
Paul Holmgren, Ed Snider and Ron Hextall (Zack Hill/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ed Snider has heard the criticisms of the NHL team he has led for nearly five decades. He may even think there’s some credence to elements of them, but in a recent conversation with THN.com, the Flyers’ founder and the only owner the team was more than willing to publicly set the record straight about his hockey philosophies and his involvement with the team.

That the 81-year-old is willing to do so with one of his most frequent critics is a credit to him. And maybe that’s because, in the first year of Ron Hextall’s tenure as GM, Snider is confident about the team and feels as if he’s gotten back to his roots – the same roots that led to the franchise’s first (and only) two Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and 1975.

Prepare yourself for the era of Patience In Philadelphia.

“Ron Hextall has come in and preached patience,” Snider said. “Ron said, ‘We’re not going to rush guys along. We’re going to develop our kids and really work on that phase of the game.’ That was my philosophy when I started the team.”

Back in those days, Snider will tell you, the Flyers were all about avoiding the trade and free agent route to improve. There was a reason why that happened – namely, that they were an expansion team – but when Philadelphia won it all in their seventh and eighth seasons of existence, his approach was validated. However, some of Snider’s critics have pointed to him straying from that philosophy as the reason Cup success has eluded the Flyers since the mid-70s. Former NHLer Bobby Holik was among those critics, claiming the consistent roster turnover every off-season led to on-ice instability. And Snider concedes that impatience became an issue for him and the team.

“Probably after five years of not winning the Cup and so forth, I started to get anxious,” Snider said. “I believe the tone of an organization comes from the top; my father always told me fish stinks from the head. And I set the tone and probably forgot my roots to a degree, wanted to win now, and lost my patience.” Read more

Mike Milbury says fighting should go, so we should keep it

Boston's Bobby Robins (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mike Milbury has made a career out of being controversial, from beating a fan with his own shoe during his playing days, to lamenting about the “pansification” of hockey as a broadcaster. And in between, he traded some of the best players in the NHL away from his New York Islanders as GM of the franchise. (cough)

Last night, Milbury remarked on NBC’s broadcast of the Bruins-Flyers game that it was time for fighting to go. “It’s over” was a particularly clear remark on the matter, as he and fellow analyst Keith Jones cited the style of play these days and concussions.

And look, that’s a great corporate line to spew. But I like my hockey with a touch of mayhem and if a man with Milbury’s track record is coming down on one side of an issue, I have no problem going the other way.

No doubt there is evidence that the straight-up enforcer is going through an identity crisis right now; Paul Bissonnette couldn’t find work, nor could Kevin Westgarth or George Parros. But to say fighting should go altogether? We’re not there yet (and I hope we never will be).

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Can the Maple Leafs afford to carry an enforcer this season?

Ken Campbell
David Clarkson (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the two full seasons Randy Carlyle has been the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, his team has led the league in fights both seasons and led in penalty minutes once. Whether or not the Leafs are at the top of either of those departments will come down to some interesting decisions they’ll have to make over the next two weeks.

In an effort to bolster their bottom six forwards, the Maple Leafs have 17 forwards on one-way contracts coming into this season. Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren, when measured simply on their hockey skills, are their two worst. But they’re also the most truculent, combining for 15 of the team’s league-leading 48 fights last season. With the logjam up front, it doesn’t seem likely they’ll be able to keep both of them in 2014-15. Read more

This is the worst flop you’ll see outside of a soccer game

Ryan Kennedy
Ryan Hollweg (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

So it seems like former NHLer Ryan ‘Hollywood’ Hollweg is having himself a tricky start to the year in the Czech Republic. The physical winger for Plzen has raised the ire of the hockey nation with his play, which has sometimes gone over the line and garnered extra discipline, including a 10-game suspension for kneeing Slavia Praha’s Tomas Vlasak.

But this post is not about that hit, which you will see below. No, this post is about the reaction, where Vlasak’s linemate, Michal Poletin, feigns as if he is going to defend his buddy, then drops like a rock when Hollweg takes a swing at him. But watch the video, specifically at the 40-second mark: Hollweg misses him with the punch!

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The top 10 fighters to watch this season

Brian McGrattan and Patrick Bordeleau (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

If you like a good scrap, you might find yourself a bit under siege lately in the hockey world. Regulations are tightening up, though the powers-that-be still maintain that organic fights, rather than staged bouts, are still part of the game. And even though enforcers such as Paul Bissonnette and Colton Orr appear to have uphill battles in returning to the NHL this season, there are still plenty of scrappers to watch. With a shout-out to hockeyfights.com as a research tool, here are the best:

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