Former Boston Bruins tough guy Stan Jonathan will face a trial stemming from a hunting incident on Six Nations land in 2012.
Chris Neil and Jared Boll are no strangers on the ice. The two veteran tough guys have fought in the past and they renewed acquaintances last night in Columbus, dropping the mitts in the first period. But the even-handed tilt did have one troubling feature: An alleged eye-gouge by Neil on Boll.
The Sharks and host Ducks engaged in a nasty little bit of NHL business late Sunday night when the two teams combined for 165 penalty minutes, nine fighting majors and eight misconducts in San Jose’s 4-1 win over Anaheim. Included in the mess were multiple ejections to players from both teams (including Ducks star Corey Perry and Sharks blueliner Justin Braun) a third period brawl and the second fight of the game between Anaheim’s Tim Jackman and San Jose’s John Scott, who left the bench in direct violation of Rule 70.2 to get into it with Jackman late in the third period.
(Some will say Scott was on a line change, but Rule 70.2 stipulates even legal line changes that lead to the instigation of a fight can be subject to supplemental discipline, and there’s no doubt that’s what Scott did.)
The win snapped both the Ducks’ seven-game win streak and the Sharks’ four-game losing skid. But the game also was significant in that it was arguably the first game of the regular season in which the NHL has sufficient evidence by which to suspend a player for his on-ice actions. Things can change in a single game, obviously, but when many teams have played ten percent of their season without some episode of superfluous chest beating occurring, there might just be evidence of an actual culture change beginning to take root among players and within league management circles.
The evidence of the different times in which the NHL now operates is all around us: over here, Sabres coach Ted Nolan, no dainty peacenik in his playing career, correctly notes the pointlessness of a staged fight; over there, former Canucks, Oilers and Rangers head coach and new Hockey Canada president Tom Renney is taking a bold stance against fighting (“(H)ockey is not the WWE. And this sport must teach many things to young people about character, integrity, teamwork, not fighting.”); Read more
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
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.
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:
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 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).