Sunday 29 December 2013

Rat PIM Update – A Month of Fighting

I’ve been busy over the past few weeks, watching a lot of hockey fights.  Not exactly my favourite thing but necessary in order to collect some additional data on fighting, enforcers and the impact on Rat PIM.  As always when you look beyond the general perception of an activity you get a better sense of what is really happening.

Monday 9 December 2013

Thornton Attacks Orpik – What Went Wrong & Who’s At Fault

By now any hockey fan has read 2 or 18 articles that covered Shawn Thornton’s assault on Brooks Orpik.  Everyone has an opinion on what occurred, who should have done what and when they should have done it.  Speculation on discipline and fan comments filled blogs, Twitter, website comments and actual pages that still use ink.  But who was really at fault here.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Rambling Thoughts on the NHL Concussion Lawsuit

I was surprised by my reaction to Monday’s announcement of retired players filing a lawsuit against the NHL.  If you have read any of my posts over the last 2 years it’s obvious that I’m no fan of fighting and I always expected a lawsuit would be brought against the league at some point.  Still I was disappointed to finally see it happen.

Saturday 23 November 2013

The Code – Creating Honor Amongst Enforcers, or Excuses

“The Code”.  That mythical set of rules that is trotted out at various times to create honor amongst  hockey enforcers and excuse the dishonorable conduct that more often results from enforcers in the game.  Those who support fighting will mention the history and tradition of dropping the gloves and that players have long used “The Code” to police the game.  But just how long has “The Code” existed.

Saturday 16 November 2013

The Fighting In Hockey Debate Isn’t Going Away

You might think that there appears to be more news articles and blog posts on the subject of whether fighting in hockey should be reduced or banned outright.  And you would be correct.  I’ve been posting regularly on this topic for almost two years now and I’m encouraged that more writers are publishing opinion pieces and fact based articles – even without a major brawl or fight-induced concussion to prompt it.

Sunday 10 November 2013

Rat PIM Update - NHL Enforcers Vs Rats

Over the past several weeks we have heard from current and former players, as well as hockey notables, about how fighting is needed to reduce or eliminate cheap shots in the sport.  Without the Enforcer role the “Rats” would take over the game.  The consensus is so strong and prevalent that there must be some evidence that would support the pro-fighting viewpoint.  It would be hard to believe that individuals who play the game at the highest level are relying solely on perception.

Saturday 2 November 2013

With Apologies to Bobby Orr and Brian Burke, All Fights Are Stupid

Over the past few weeks we have heard from two prominent hockey insiders on why fighting belongs in hockey.  An excerpt from Bobby Orr’s new book was widely distributed by the media and Brian Burke had his own guest column on the subject.  Both tried to show that fighting was an honorable and necessary activity in the NHL.  And then Emery demonstrated why all of their arguments are bullshit.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Shanahan – NHL Enforcer’s Days Are Numbered

Brendan Shanahan departed from his usual script during his most recent suspension announcement to express his disappointment with a few of NHLPA members.  “The NHL Department of Player Safety is overworked and stretched to the limit because certain players are doing whatever the hell they like and not focusing on hockey.  I’m talking about enforcers and their inability to protect their teammates and take care of the rats”.

Monday 14 October 2013

Fighting Vs Visors – Does the NHL Care About Player Safety

The recent concussion suffered by George Parros and yesterday’s seizure suffered by USHL player Dylan Chanter, both as a result of a fight, got me thinking about visors.   The NHL was gravely concerned about eye injuries and last January decided to grandfather in the mandatory wearing of protective face shields.  I find it very strange that they brought in a rule that protects a few players while many more suffer serious injuries during a fight.

Saturday 5 October 2013

Fighting In Hockey Debate – NHLPA Has The Last Word

Last Tuesday George Parros was taken from the game on a stretcher after hitting the ice face first while engaged in a fight with Colton Orr.  The last 4 days has been full of media coverage and blog posts calling for the end of fighting in hockey.  In response we also heard from current players on a wide range of teams providing vocal support for the role of the enforcer.  The latter group has the final say on any change in penalties or efforts to reduce fighting.

Monday 23 September 2013

No Surprises From Leafs – Sabres Brawl

So last night the Buffalo Sabres visited the Toronto Maple Leafs for a meaningless preseason game and anyone who is a hockey fan has read an article or watched the video.  If you missed then you can catch up on the news here at the National Post or at The Toronto Star.   Any long-time hockey watchers wouldn’t be surprised by the action or the results.

Sunday 15 September 2013

A Round Up of Recent News On Hockey Fights and Concussions

At a meeting this past August a group of Canadian doctor’s came down firmly on the NHL’s lack of action on concussions and fighting.  It made a lot of news and got spun into several other opinions and news pieces.   Here’s my thoughts on a sample of what was published.

Saturday 8 June 2013

NHL & NHLPA Earn Fees While EA Sports Promotes Fighting In Hockey

In the past few weeks EA Sports has ramped up their promotion of NHL 14 and is targeting fans of the hockey video game series to drive orders before the official release.  Prominent in their advertising and early reviews is the new feature, the “Enforcer Engine”   The majority of hype about NHL 14 is about fighting, and the NHL and NHLPA collect fees from every copy sold while hockey’s image suffers.

Monday 27 May 2013

An Open Letter to Donald Fehr and the NHLPA

On Wednesday, May 22nd, an announcement was made on that Donald Fehr and the NHLPA would seek to curb fighting in the NHL.  According to the report this direction was announced at a meeting on April 25th with a dozen influential agents.  This announcement is only the beginning and we are a long way away from seeing real action on the issue of fighting in hockey.  With that in mind I thought that I would write a letter to Fehr and NHLPA membership and see if I could offer some advice on how to move the discussion forward.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Donald Fehr and NHLPA Seek to Curb Fighting in NHL

It would appear that some leadership on the issue of fighting in the NHL is emerging, and not from the league or the teams.   It was announced today on the French Radio Canada website that Donald Fehr and the NHLPA are working towards the elimination of fighting in the NHL.

Friday 10 May 2013

Rat PIM Update – Leafs Enforcers Policing the Game

Hockey enforcers are touted as “policemen” in hockey.  According to some they hand out retribution for cheap shots and their targets will think twice before about repeating their sins.  It has even been suggested that their mere presence on the bench will calm things down and their opponents will play differently.   Unfortunately that’s all myth and perception because the facts tell a different story.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

Is Fighting Part of NHL’s Marketing, Or Are They Embarrassed By It

“It’s time we took some action because, if something isn’t done soon, it will ruin the game for all of us. I’ve never seen so much stuff like this. I never thought it could be so bad.  It’s becoming a disaster,” he said. “The idiot owners, the incompetent coaches, the inept players are dragging the game into the mud. They’re destroying it with their senseless violence.”   When one of hockey’s top players speaks out you would expect that the league and the NHLPA would listen and perhaps respond.   Except the NHL has never fully articulated its stance on fighting and violence despite ample opportunity to do so.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Am I the Only One Who Believes Fighting is Bad for Hockey?

I’ve spent more than a year publishing 3 or 4 articles per month on why fighting and enforcers are negatively impacting the sport of hockey.  Most are opinion pieces but a significant amount provide data and research that dispels the myths that the hockey establishment (players, coaches, team and league executives) uses to explain why it remains in the game.  But I’m not the only one providing real facts on why fighting hurts the team.

Saturday 6 April 2013

Rat PIM Update – NHL Teams Fighting to Win

So the league is settling down with fewer fights per game over the past few weeks.  Some teams have made dramatic changes, either adding some 4th line grit or downsizing their police force and focusing on hockey.  I wonder if the teams who have significantly increased or decreased their fights per game have improved their win – loss record.   Let’s find out.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

NHL Dodges Another Bullet With Martin - Kostopoulos Fight

Last night Matt Martin fought Tom Kostopoulos and quickly dropped him to the ice unconscious.   No word at the time of this writing about Kostopoulos’ condition.   The video was shared a few million times across the web and a like amount of jokes and comments about the knockout dominated social media.   I’m sure that the NHL held their breath for a few hours and then let out another sigh of relief.

Saturday 23 March 2013

A Blueprint for Improving Player Safety and Reducing Fighting in Hockey.

I have made the point several times that fighting is a symptom of player frustration over officiating and discipline.  When a player is hit hard with a cheap shot, either they or a teammate feels compelled to take revenge.  A 2 minute power play is not enough of a penalty to reduce this emotion.  And if the player is hurt then the need for revenge is even stronger and not reduced one iota by a 2 or 3 game suspension for the culprit.  The fight becomes one of the most predictable acts in the NHL.

Saturday 16 March 2013

Rat PIM Update – Rats Then & Now

It’s time for another Rat PIM update, where we look at the dangerous or cheap shot type penalties taken by teams and see if there is any correlation to fighting.   A recent article by Liam Maguire on the Cooke – Karlsson skate slicing incident also prompted me to take a close look at some previous Rats in the game.   In my opinion, history isn’t very kind to Liam’s argument.

Saturday 9 March 2013

One Punch Sets Off Fighting in Hockey Debate

Just 26 seconds into a Toronto Maple Leafs versus Ottawa Senators match another fight broke out.  It was no different than the thousands of fights that the NHL and NHLPA have tacitly approved over the past decade.  Players fight to send a message, to intimidate an opponent, to exact revenge for some real or imagined slight, or to simply prove that their role on the team is relevant.   But this one was different.

Friday 1 March 2013

Get Rid of the Instigator Rule

One of the most polarizing and misunderstood NHL rules has to be the Instigator Rule.  Hockey fans cite the rule as the cause for the demise of the enforcer role, cheap shots and the increase in concussions.  The majority of messages that I get are from fans who never watched a game in the 80’s or have never bothered to look up any history on when or why the Instigator Rule entered the rule book.  A recent web post calling for its repeal prompted me to write this rebuttal.

Saturday 23 February 2013

Update on Fighting in Junior Hockey

Back in September I posted an article that highlighted rule changes by various junior hockey leagues in an effort to reduce fighting.  The OHL, CJHL and USHL were the most progressive while WHL and QMJHL made little to no change in their rules.  Although their seasons are not over yet I thought I would provide a quick snapshot on progress.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Rat PIM Highlights – Update February 18th 2013

We recently celebrated Hockey Day in Canada and Hockey Weekend Across America.  The primetime telecast in Canada on Saturday, February 9th featured several 3rd period brawls between Toronto and Montreal.  That game gave me the motivation to update my theory on the correlation of fights per game and Rat PIM.  I thought that I would review a small sample of games involving the top teams in fight majors this season and see how they are doing in their honourable campaign to make the game safer.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Hockey Fights and Concussions / Gospel of Hockey Podcast

I have a couple of short updates in this post.  One has to do with an interesting article I came across that provided interesting data on concussions caused by hockey fights.   The other was a surprise invite to participate in a podcast for the Gospel of Hockey to discuss this blog and my thoughts on fighting in hockey today.

Saturday 9 February 2013

An Alternate View of The Code in Hockey

There were several articles published this week, and quite a few tweets sent, that talked about “The Code” and its place in Hockey.  The incident that prompted this week’s activity was a fight between Raffi Torres and Jamal Mayers.  Many saw the bout as proof that fighting is necessary and that “The Code” was honored by both players.  I saw it as a simple case of revenge and wondered why anyone would see this as positive for the image of the sport.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Hockey Fans Are Tired of Hockey Fights

After watching another pointless hockey fight, one in which Zac Rinaldo stunned B.J. Crombeen and left him dazed on the ice, I spent some time searching Twitter for tweets on hockey fights.  I was impressed that there were numerous comments from fans who wanted to see fighting eliminated from the game.   But I wonder what impact those tweets have without direction.

Sunday 3 February 2013

The Rats Are Taking Over The Game

A little over a year ago there was a press conference where Brian Burke complained that the rats were taking over the game.  At the time there was considerable press coverage that fights per game had declined over the previous year and the pro-fight contingent used Burke’s comments to point how the game featured more cheap shots as a result.  Except the facts show the opposite is true.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Why Fighting Does Not Belong In Hockey.

Joseph Beyda recently published an article in the Stanford Daily titled Why Fighting Fits in the NHL.  It was a rebuttal to a colleague, Tom Taylor, who wrote about his initial experience with hockey, published previously on the same website under Why do NHL “stars” Still Have to Act Like Goons?  Beyda thought that his arguments were solid and his defense of fighting was a slam dunk.  I don’t think so.

Friday 25 January 2013

NHL Cares About Player Safety – Just Don’t Ask Them About Fighting

The NHL has been very vocal about how progressive they are in the area of player safety.  A little over a year ago they announced a Department of Player Safety.  Brendan Shanahan has become the new face of player discipline, handing out stiffer penalties in an effort to reduce head shots.  At the same time he participates in committees that look at equipment and rule changes designed to make the game safer.  So why is fighting ignored or dismissed as an area of concern?

Saturday 19 January 2013

Putting The Best Talent On The Ice

Several roster announcements caught my attention this past week, particularly those involving enforcers.  All of the teams talked about adding “grit”, or making them “tough to play against” or “creating room for their skilled players”.  I wondered about the talent that wouldn’t make the team because of a role player who would see limited minutes on the 4th line.

Thursday 3 January 2013

The Code by Ross Bernstein (Part 2)

This is a continuation of my review of Ross Bernstein’s book, The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL.  In part one I provided my opinion on the first half of his presentation of 10 reasons about what prompts dropping the gloves.  Here in part two I’ll address reasons 6 to 10 and provide an alternative view.