The Tuesday mailbag columns continue, but if you don't see your question dealt with here, remember there's another set of answers coming on Friday. And if you don't see your question anytime soon, feel free to try again.
Isn't fighting on the ice better than the thug life generally associated with the NFL and the NBA? One could say that what happens on the ice, stays on the ice.
That's not what's happening in other sports. Perhaps the outlet of fighting is a good thing?
Eddie Friend, Darien, Conn
There's no doubt that NHLers are, by and large, some of the most model citizens of any pro sports endeavor. However, if you're trying to say that if football and basketball utilized designated goons, there would be no off-hour shenanigans of the Michael Vick variety, I'm going to have to respectfully disagree.
My main concern with fighting in hockey has always been twofold: First, the professional enforcer is an atrocity that has to go. They're great guys to interview, very humble and hardworking in their own right, but no other reputable sport employs their kind.
Secondly, if two players honestly don't like each other, or if one player goads another into losing control of his emotions and dropping the gloves, that's fine by me, as well. That is, so long as the repercussions involved mirror the severe consequences meted out by other sports.
I've always said there is no practical means by which to completely eradicate fighting from the NHL. But there is no practical reason Gary Bettman and the owners shouldn't mandate heavy fines and/or suspensions when players egregiously cross the line of good sportsmanship.
Players of all sports will get away with whatever the governing bodies of those sports permit them to; For too long, the NHL has allowed them to get away with too much.
How do the players decide to make a line change? It must take a good signal to get them all off and on at the right time!
Debbie, Denver, Colo.
Luckily, players don't get to decide line changes on their own. If they did, some of the more selfish NHLers would be out for five-minute shifts, rather than the 30-45 seconds they currently enjoy each time over the boards.
Instead, the coaching staff chooses who goes out and when. And if a player refuses to return to the bench when the coaches want him to, there is a special signal they get. But only when they're out of the public eye.
First let me say that I think your column is one that gives serious hockey fans a place to give opinions, present ideas and also vent anger/frustration at times. For this I thank both you and The Hockey News.
Now, the question of a Wayne Gretzky award for the player who scores the most assists each year is great. But I must ask, why stop there? Why not at the same time award a Bobby Orr trophy for the most (offensive) defenseman in the NHL? After all, this man changed the way defensemen and others play the game.
Leave the Norris in place for the best (defensive) defenseman. Now if we could only come up with something for the great Gordie Howe, I think all bases would be covered. Opinions!
Thanks, Fred B., Lynbrook, N.Y.
Thanks for the nice words. After the usual bashing we at THN take for our pre-season predictions, it's comforting to know some readers understand what we're here for.
I like your suggestion. If William Jennings Â– who wasn't even a player Â– deserves an NHL award (for lowest goals-against average in the league) named after him, surely the game's best-ever blueliner is worthy of an equal honor.
One thing's been bugging me as I've been gearing up for the start of a new NHL season. I keep track of all the stats on my own terms. But there's something that's really annoying me:
What the hell is up with Jakub Klepis? He's a restricted free agent. He can still play in the NHL, can he not? Why is he not technically listed on the Washington Capitals' roster? It's that damn new NHL, isn't it? Or Gary Bettman. He seems like the one to blame here...
Thank you for, um...listening?
Steve Sheppard, Halifax, N.S.
Klepis is indeed a restricted free agent and has yet to come to terms with Washington on a new contract.
He is still skating with the Capitals right now Â– and obviously, hoping to sign a new deal soon Â– but there's no guarantee he'll be back in Washington at all. With the strong manner in which the Caps have started the season, I'm guessing he doesn't have much in the way of bargaining leverage.
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