Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kerrzy’s Notebook: To Fight, or Not to Fight

It’s a debate that comes up every now and then, and will come up until the day that fighting is no longer a part of hockey: Should fighting be allowed in the game?

The newest side of the debate has people asking should there be rules to a hockey fight?

A lot of the latest talk came in response to the death of a senior men’s AAA player in Ontario this month. Don Sanderson’s helmet came off during a fight and the 21-year-old Whitby Dunlops defenseman hit his head on the ice, sending him into a coma. Three weeks later, on January 2nd, he died.

That tragic event revved up a new dialogue about the need to police hockey fights and perhaps punish players who lose their lids during an altercation.

The Ontario Hockey League was the first league to act – if a player takes off his helmet or removes his chinstrap during a fight, they get an automatic game misconduct and one-game suspension.

If one player does it and the other guy doesn’t, the offender gets an additional two minutes..

The QMJHL penalizes players with a 10-minute misconduct, while the WHL currently doesn’t punish players for removing or losing their helmets.

What happens if a player rips off the lid of the guy he’s fighting? A game misconduct and a one-game suspension!

It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out, considering how easily helmets seem to come off these days (re: Sweden’s goalie in the gold medal game at the World Juniors).

Trying to govern a thing like fighting seems a bit silly to me. What’s next, will there be rules governing how you can slash or crosscheck a guy?

How about this: if one guy drops his mitts and is fighting another guy that clearly doesn’t want to fight, take action. If two players line up at a draw ready to drop the gloves, and both guys want to fight – let ‘em go.

Or here’s one: if a player wants to be tough and drop the gloves, but then just grabs the other guy and holds on for dear life, give him five for fighting and two for holding.

That’s where the problems happen; when two guys are grappling and swinging around wildly, one guy always ends up falling awkwardly. Why not ref it like a boxing match; if you don’t want to stand there and throw punches, don’t fight.

If a league outlaws fighting, cheap shots will reign supreme. If you leave fighting in the game, there will be occasional injuries, but there are injuries anyways.

What do the fans think? Next time there’s a fight during an NHL game, look around the stands.

Speaking of sweet fights, check out this beauty KO by the Oilers’ Sheldon Souray on Minnesota’s Craig Weller last night:

Overtime: 50% off!

No, we’re not talking happy hour at your local sports pub. There’s an interesting rule that the American Hockey League brought in at the start of this year that was just brought to my attention a few days ago.

While I don’t agree with the OHL’s rule about helmets during fights, this is one I couldn’t agree more with. In AHL games, if a team has a power play going into overtime, they chop it in half.

A Toronto Star report early in 2008 showed that 39% of overtime power plays (4-on-3s) resulted in a winning goal. Shorter period, shorter penalty.

It makes sense when you consider that a minor penalty eats up about 40 percent of the five-minute overtime, while taking up just three percent of a regular period of hockey.

Since the NHL tests a lot of its new rules in the AHL before bringing them in, don’t be surprised if this is one we see in the coming years.

Thought about ankle insurance?

Kobe Bryant’s got a new shoe out, but that’s not news. The way he’s advertising it is what makes this one blog-worthy.

I love it – Kobe made a spoof of any number of insurance ads with his "Not My Broken Ankles"website.

“Ankle Insurance Co. is looking for motivated young ballers to join our team of highly skilled agents. If you've recently broken someone's ankles and think you've got what it takes, fill out a claim form and send it to your victim and the witnesses.”

For those of you not in the know, there’s an informative video on the webpage and it’s a beauty!

AND THIS JUST IN: The San Jose Sharks have recalled veteran Claude Lemieux from their AHL affiliate. This just about completes that comeback attempt we talked about a couple of weeks ago!

That’s all for this week!

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