The American League is often seen as a petri dish for future NHL rules, but there’s no chance the NHL will be adopting the minor pro circuit’s recent rule changes regarding fighting. And that’s mostly because it doesn’t have to because it doesn’t face the same issues when it comes to fighting that the AHL does.
And that’s because, even though its teams seem perfectly content to sign one-dimensional players such as Michael Liambas to two-way contracts, it actually doesn’t have the problems a guy such as Liambas brings to the game. Effectively kicked out of two leagues already in his career, Liambas has averaged during his pro career one goal every 21.2 games and one fight in every 2.6. According to hockeyfights.com, Liambas had 20 fights in the AHL last season, which is more than nine entire NHL teams had in 2015-16. In fact, Liambas had three more fights than the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings had combined.
As long as the NHL faces a concussion lawsuit from former players, you can expect NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to get his back up about the issue of fighting. And if that means he has to go to the same age-old clichés about its place in the game and provide nebulous information, so be it.
That was the case when Bettman was asked about it in an interview with an online broadcast of Sports Illustrated Now. Bettman was responding to questions about a letter he received from Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who accused the league of appearing, “dismissive about the link between head trauma and chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the game of hockey.” Blumenthal, who is a member of a Senate subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security, posed nine questions to Bettman about how the league handles concussions and whether he believes there is a link between CTE and hockey. Blumenthal asked for a response by July 23 and Bettman complied.
Who says there’s no fighting in the playoffs? St. Louis Blues enforcer Ryan Reaves weighed in on the topic last night, squaring off against Dallas’ Curtis McKenzie in what was actually two acts of ice justice.
You’ve got to think that every NHL player and executive will think at least twice before hitting the ‘Send’ button the next time he wants to send an email or text message with sensitive information. As we’ve found with the Dennis Wideman and NHL concussion case recently, you never know when what you thought were your private words are going to be used against you.
Such is the case with the emails that were unsealed by a U.S. Federal Court in Minneapolis involving the highest-ranking NHL officials. The messages, part of the concussion lawsuit against the NHL, are damning to both the league and the NHL Players’ Association and pull back the veil on what some of the league’s most powerful people really think about the culture of violence in the game.
Things got all testy last night between Montreal and Buffalo, with the Sabres defending their crease with furious anger. At the height of the animosity, Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner yanked Montreal’s Michael McCarron through the air and the two then exchanged gloved punches. Lehner’s netminding counterpart, Ben Scrivens, skated up to the blueline but never crossed the Rubicon:
After the tilt, which Montreal won 3-2, Lehner had some fightin’ words:
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse hasn’t been afraid to drop his gloves throughout his career, but his fourth career big league fight could result in him watching a couple of games from the sidelines.
Tuesday night in Edmonton, with less than two minutes remaining in the game, Nurse, 21, went after the Sharks’ Roman Polak. During the fight, Nurse repeatedly delivered punches to Polak’s head, even though the 29-year-old Sharks blueliner was covering his face and very clearly a reluctant participant in the bout: Read more
Fighting has been on the decline in the NHL recently, much to the delight of many of my peers in the media. But take a look at some of the action from last night and you’ll see why the players almost universally have a different opinion.
It took a little-known Swiss goaltender named Joren Van Pottleberghe to bring together the two principal characters of one of the most infamous incidents the game has ever seen.
It was shortly after the draft and the Detroit Red Wings had just selected Van Pottleberghe in the fourth round. Kris Draper, an executive with the Red Wings, was in the lobby in his hotel in South Florida and he was approached by Claude Lemieux, the agent for Van Pottleberghe. The two had a rather awkward conversation about Lemieux’s client for a couple of minutes and Lemieux went on his way.
“I wasn’t going to bring it up,” Draper said, “and he wasn’t going to bring it up. It was basically him as an agent and me as a Red Wings executive talking hockey.”