Proteau's Blog: Boo, Boogaard, Boo!

Adam Proteau
By: Adam Proteau
Jul 16, 2007
The Hockey News

Proteau's Blog: Boo, Boogaard, Boo!

Adam Proteau
By: Adam Proteau
Jul 16, 2007
• How proud the NHL must be to know one of its players has been hosting a camp that instructs kids as young as 12 how to physically decimate their opponents with their fists.

In addition to providing that oh-so-valuable life lesson in common assault, the second “Derek Boogaard Fighting Camp”, held last week in the Minnesota Wild enforcer's home province of Saskatchewan, also gives the kiddies T-shirts “splotched with blood-red dye,” according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Awwwww. Cute. But I think Boogaard hasn't gone far enough. He should be demonstrating what ambulance rides to a hospital's intensive care unit feel like. The tykes ought to know how it feels to have reconstructive surgery on their orbital bones. And there's got to be enough room in the curriculum for showing campers how to push aside their consciences, as well as how to live with the long-term, physical effects that follow when you pummel other human beings for a living.

Can you imagine the public outcry if an NBAer – especially one of a particular skin color – held summer camps for inner city children on how to throw down? David Stern would be on the first private jet to meet that player and politely inform him to immediately desist before the commissioner ceases to employ him.

However, in the NHL, Gary Bettman simply yawns and turns a blind eye to such a disgrace. I suppose he's too busy being insulted by Jim Balsillie's uncouth attempts at buying a franchise to notice.

But back to Boogaard, who told the Pioneer Press he's just thrilled to see wanton goonery (OK, perhaps those weren't his exact words) wedge its way back into the NHL.

“The way the league's going, (teams are) signing everyone back that fought before because they saw what Anaheim did all year long and in the playoffs,” Boogaard told the Pioneer Press. “Fans were excited after the lockout because it was such a fast game. It was, but then it got boring.

"(Fighting) is coming back. I'm excited for the season.”

Last year, The Hockey News got a lot of publicity out of our “Death Of The Goon” issue; the way the tide seems to be unfortunately turning, we could be doing something very similar this season – only, instead of discussing goons in the past tense, we'll do a cover story on the death of a player involved in a fight. Are you excited about the potential for that, Derek?

Blood sports, those kids with the t-shirts splotched in blood play video games where people's heads get cutoff, or they get sprayed in cyber-drive-by's. Heck Boo-gard probably still plays those games, he's a youngster. I don't condone "fight camp" but the constant sitting on the fence that hockey media types continue to wrestle with (bad pun) is getting annoying. Hockey is dangerous and tough and played at a hi speed. Stop protecting its image by condemning the participants. There are TV shows where detectives flirt with each other and commercials for soda-pop are interspliced with a story line about child abuse. Hockey is violent. Eliminate BOOgards camp, hell eliminate him too just stop worrying about what the public will do when comparing it to the NBA.
- Bob Lombardi

Fighting is a part of the game. Simple as that.
- Peter Kohut

If someone was going to die from a fight it would've happened already. I've been to a ton of hockey camps and there is almost always a tough instructor who teaches the kids how to fight properly
- Matt

While it seems like a moronic idea to teach kids how to fight, Adam's suggestion that Boogaard should add "ambulance rides" and "reconstructive surgery" simulations to his fighting camp is hypocritical. Should traditional hockey camps show kids "what it feels like" to get a puck in the face, or checked from behind into the boards, or cut with a skate blade, or catch a stick in the mouth? These are all painful consequences of playing hockey. Finally, why would one need to "push aside" his conscience in order to engage in a consensual fistfight with another adult? Going Bertuzzi-style on an unwilling victim is one thing, but Boogaard and, say, McGrattan willingly squaring off is another matter entirely.
- Tom M.

I think you need to pull your head out of your rear end and get real. Most fans love the fighting in Hockey and you know it. If the NHL was smart they would promote players like Boogaard and the excitement they bring to the game. Get rid of the instigator rule and let the players police the game instead of the unnecessary extra official. At least Derek is not afraid to say what the league already knows. Fighting will always be a part of hockey. It sucks when people like you try to mess it up for everyone else.
- Emmet Klocker

Boogaard is a total joke and doesnt belong in the NHL... at least the great fighters of years past had respect for life in their odd ways... and they did not rough up smaller, less physical players (Hemksy of the Oilers for one!) Just one more reason Bettman needs to go!
- Mark

Derek Boogaard isn't doing anything too new. I remember my coach teaching how to throw my weight around and get away with holding when I was 11. I'm sure every kid that played hockey when they were a kid had a coach teach them how to fight, or at least how not to get embarassed in a fight. The only difference between my coach and Boogaard is that my coach started every session with, "don't tell your parents I told you how to hit people", and Boogaard starts his sessions with, "tell your parents they owe me $600 or I won't show you how to hit people". I bet you couldn't find a single coach in the NHL that would mind his young players taking Derek Boorgaards class (with the possible exception of Peter Laviolette).
- John Ramacca

isn't that a bit arrogant? granted, i'm never been to the camp, but i'm sure the goal isn't to make children better fighters. the goal is probably to teach the game of hockey to a younger generation and teach some life lessons along the way. the name "fight camp" is most likely a way to get people interested in what is going on.
- Brian

I couldn't agree with you more. Those of your readers who were able to watch the NHL during the Gretzky era when scores of 6-5 were commonplace rarely came away from a game describing it as Boogaard does as 'boring'. This is the type of hockey we should be trying to promote, not the kind that is reminiscent of the 74 Flyers and Dave' The Hammer' Schultz (I lived through that as well and I'll take a tic tack toe goal over a right hook any day of the week). And the garbage allegation that taking the fighting out of hockey is pandering to could be fans in non-hockey markets is just that, garbage. I don't feel any more Canadian when Mr. Boogaard (or anyone else of his ilk), drops the gloves with a willing (or unwilling) opponent. It's about the puck, fellas, the game is about the puck.
- Stephen J. Holodinsky

Your article is an interesting one, but only really addresses the opinion that all hockey players that fight must be goons. This isn't necessarily the case, but it does seem to be common. However, the "goonery" is not really related to the fighting itself, I identify that sort of behavior with hits to the head and cheap shots, something that is uncalled for and doesn't belong in the game. Fighting, however, is a way to settle a score, tell the other team you won't tolerate those cheap shots, or just a one-on-one battle to test their skill in this area. The enforcer is also assigned the task of protecting their star players, and resorting to fisticuffs is a legal, effective way to tell the other team to back off. Knowing how to fight improves the game, it doesn't hurt it. The more effective the enforcer, the less chance anoth er player is going to pester him and his teammates. The league should be concerned about the actual instances of illegal actions, not the ones that are legal, and one that the players themselves approve of keeping in the game.
- Matt Peters

I saw both the Pioneer Press article and the Star Tribune article about the fight camp. I did not get the impression that the intention for the camp was for kids to learn how to pummel someone. I got the impression that it was to teach the kids how to protect themselves and keep them from getting hurt. I wish I would of had the chance to go to a camp like this. It would of saved me a few good but kickings.
- Bill

A great column that I love to read on a daily basis, but this kind of irks my chain. Yes, it might seem that this is camp is a factory for more goons to come out of saskatchewan, but you also have to look at the hockey that kids are watching in Saskatchewan. The WHL is a great league where players are accountable for their actions, just check the Saskatoon Blades and the Medicine Hat Tigers a few years ago in the playoffs. The goal scorer on the Tigers gutted a Blade with his stick, and low and behold the start of the third period some one made an example of him. It's the way hockey has been played and should be played.
- Trevor Gateley

Um, yeah. When's the last time someone died from a hockey fight? And have you ever actually WATCHED Derek Boogaard play hockey? He draws more penalties than he takes. He protects our skilled players, and don't say that isn't important. While he was out with an injury last season, players on other teams were taking runs at our players, resulting in Pavol Demitra being out for a long time with a concussion. If you can stop that kind of crap, MAYBE we woudn't need to have players like Boogey. If you can figure out a way to stop cheap shots, I'm all for it, but until then, bring on the Boogeyman. He is probably the most popular player on our team. And the guy who got his orbital bone broken by Boogey went AFTER him all the way down the ice. Boogaard shook him off at least twice, but the idiot just woudn't ta ke no for an answer. He was stupid. If you insist on taking on someone like Boogaard, who is bigger and stronger than you are, you had better be prepared to take the consequences. Maybe HE should have attended the Boogaard Fight Camp. geez! We'll keep our Boogeyman, thank you very much!
- Connie MacRostie

A ridiculous and embarrasing money grubbing stunt that keeps the sport in competition with the MLS as the most irrelevant league. For all the pro-goons out there I'm always astounded at thier support for the physicality and machismo of the game and then give a free ride to all the other players. Hey, I love a good scrap between two players that have something to settle, just don't have designated hitters stage a side-show while the pretty boys tap their sticks from the bench. I fondly remember Doug Gilmore and Joe Sakic going at it at center ice at the McNicholls Arena and Vinny Lecavalier and Jerome Iginla during the playoffs. Thats hockey.
- Charles Mundis

Has Adam Proteau been to visit this camp and seen if it's true that the kids are being taught only fighting and not any other aspects of playing hockey? As hockey fans know, a successful team is made up of various key role players. You have your goal scorers, your defensive forwards, your offensive-minded and defensive-minded defensemen and your goaltenders. Wait, I forgot one, you also have you enforcer (lest you soon be decimated of your offensively skilled players by some on-ice bully). It sounds to me as though Derek Boogaard may be teaching these youngsters about a key role that they may be asked to play from time to time in a typical high level hockey game. Perhaps the kids are being taught how to balance themselves properly on their skates during a scuffle, or how to intelligently pick their 'spots' for any fisticuffs so as to become a player respected by his peers and coaches. Until fighting is removed from the NHL (let's all hope that never happens), the role of the enforcer has always been and will always be critical to a successful team or franchise. Perhaps Derek Boogaard is teaching future skilled players how to adequately stand-up for themselves in a game that can be intimidating for some players. Maybe, just maybe Derek Boogaard will be proven to be substantially contributing to the development of the next generation of skilled, but yet tough hockey players like Mark Messier, Brendan Shanahan or Jarome Iginla. Let's hope so!
- Jody McSwain

Hokey is a rough sport. It always has been and no amount of rounding up Europeans to play in the NHL will stop that. Fighting is part of hockey. I don't see anyone standing outside the Metrodome with picket signs demanding the NFL ban tackling because it's barbaric and potentially deadly--and the idea of eliminating fighting (and with it, enforcers like Boogaard) is just as asinine. If Mr. Proteau would have read the ENTIRE article, instead of going off half-cocked like the rest of the people who have no clue what they're on about, he would have learned one thing: Derek and Aaron's first priority is to teach the kids how to be safe. His first rule to avoid getting hurt is "don't get punched". "The main thing is I'm not teaching them how to hurt each other," Derek insists. "I'm showing them how to protect themselves - where to hold, where to grab and, if you're in trouble, what to do." And as for Todd Fedoruk-watch the tapes, people!! Fedoruk, though half Boogey's size, DEMANDED that fight. He spent a full ten minutes of ice time (not clock time) literally chasing Boogey around the ice, poking and grabbing at him, all the while Boogey actually telling him to go away. Fedoruk knew what he was getting into and if he was unprepared for the outcome, that's his own problem. Hockey is a beautiful sport for both the finesse and grace of the goal scorers AND for the sheer physicality of the hits and the fights. If you don't understand that, go watch basketball, we don't want you here.
- Karen

It should be noted that this is one part of a larger camp. On top of this, Boogaard isn't teaching children how to hurt people as much as he is teaching them how to protect themselves as well as the other player once they are in a fight. Fighting is, regrettably, part of the game and is penalized as such. I see no problem with children learning how to fight properly so they don't hurt themselves or others.
- Blake

I can't wait for the Boogyman and George Parros to square off this season. Boogey needs to be taught a little lesson about shaking hands with your opponent after they crush you in the playoffs. I will admit that Boogey lacks some class and needs to study some of the real enforcers like Semenko, Plett, McSorley, Probert and others and understand there is an honor in protecting your goal scorers. However, he is a role player and teams that best fill in those roles, win championships. Boogie knows his role and is one of the best - if not the best. If I was his size, I would be a pretty good fighter too. C'mon. 6'7" 250. That is NBA not NHL. But anyway, look at most Cup winners in the modern era. They all had tough role players. As for a camp to teach young players how to fill the role of fighter/enforcer, well if that is the role the kid wants to take, then who I am to stop them. There are camps for every other hockey role player out there. Why not fighting? As for Proteau's clearly negative position on it, what do you expect from an article by Proteau? He is the same guy that bashes any American or European for staking any claim to the game of hockey. It is Canada or bust for him and don't bad mouth Canada or else Proteau will cause the pen to become mightier than the sword (of fists in this case). He knows the history of the game and thinks Canada should receive royalties or licensing fees from the rest of the world to play "their" game or even mention the name of it. Wuss.
- Brad

The question that begs to be answered is...How many kids were at that camp and what are their parents opinions? And while we're at it, what was the cost?
- Kevin Brosien

So Adam, have you ever watched Boogey play hockey? Rhetorical question on my part, I think, because if you had you would not have written this article in this tone. You call him a goon because he takes care of his star players. This past season Derek actually dropped the gloves the least amount of times ever in his career. I have watched Boogey for 3 years now. His decision making skills when it comes to dropping the gloves has gotten remarkably good. In Houston he would drop the gloves if you looked at him or a teammate wrong. Now he is thinking about whether or not it is a good idea before dropping them instead of after. And as for his and his brother's fight camp listed below is what the kids learned. Where exactly do you see that they are learning to 'physically decimate their opponents'? 1. Don't get hit. 2. If you get hit, keep your fists up and head back to protect your face. 3. Always try to keep one hand locked on the other player's jersey. 4. When dodging a punch, pull your head toward either shoulder, so that your jaw has something to absorb the punch. 5. Always keep your balance. The camp is about preventing injuries not causing them. Derek roughs up smaller players? Boogey finishes his checks. He just happens to be bigger than everyone else in the league so his hits are going to be bigger. Boogey is very conscious of his size and he makes sure that when he checks someone his elbows stay down (last time I checked that was legal). Unlike some others that play in this league. If the opposing players can't take the hits then maybe they shouldn't be playing hockey. And one more thing, Boogey didn't shake hands after the series with Anaheim because Coach Lemaire told him not to. Because of Anaheim's antics during the game, Lamaire didn't' want any of the shenanigans to carry over to the handshake. You want to talk about 'wanton goonery" take a look at the Anaheim Ducks and then we can discuss what constitutes goonery.
- Cheryl
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Proteau's Blog: Boo, Boogaard, Boo!