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Enforcers And The NHL


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Interesting read on espn.com today. I personally don't agree with the article for several reasons but check it out and let me know what you think:

So much has happened since ...

A lockout wiped out an entire NHL season. Sweden won Olympic gold in men's hockey, with Canada finishing seventh. The Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup. Peyton Manning won a Super Bowl ring. An Italian was selected first overall in the NBA draft. Roger Federer bettered Jimmy Connors' record for consecutive weeks at No. 1.

All have occurred since that terrible night in Vancouver three years ago Thursday, when Todd Bertuzzi turned out the lights on Steve Moore.

But has anything been learned by those who run pro hockey, not to mention those who play the game?

Cox believes the 'revenge' factor that was behind Bertuzzi's 2004 hit is still evident in the game today.

Did one of the ugliest incidents in NHL history, right up there with Eddie Shore's attack on Ace Bailey and the Rocket Richard riots and the stick fight between Chico Maki and Ted Green, make one iota of difference? Or is it all just starting to become a deep fade?

You don't see videotape of Bertuzzi's gooning of Moore on TV as often anymore, perhaps evidence the incident is no longer so acute in the minds of North American hockey observers.

The threatening pro-Bertuzzi e-mails don't pour in from Vancouver any more; Bertuzzi has been traded twice since his terrible error in judgment at GM Place, and West Coast fans no longer feel compelled to rationalize what happened.

His trade last summer from Vancouver to Florida for a deal involving goalie Roberto Luongo now sits as one of the most one-sided in NHL history. The bamboozled Panthers have already moved on, peddling the big winger to Detroit at the February trade deadline for a bunch of futures and maybes.

Bertuzzi may yet emerge from the injury list (he hasn't played since October because of back surgery) and take part in the playoffs for the Red Wings.

Moore? He lives in Toronto and is seen around town and at his local church from time to time; his physical state is uncertain, his career as a professional hockey player is apparently over, and his lawsuit against Bertuzzi and the Canucks is still ongoing.

His brother, Mark, has written a fine book on the state of hockey called "Saving the Game: Pro Hockey's Quest to Raise its Game from Crisis to New Heights." And his other brother, Dominic, was recently traded from Pittsburgh to Jacques Lemaire's Minnesota Wild.

So life, and the world of hockey, has relentlessly rumbled forward, leaving Steve Moore and his injuries behind.

But as the truly abhorrent nature of the incident passes further into history and carries less of a sting, it seems clear the hockey culture and mentality that fueled passions on March 8, 2004, seem at the very least still evident in the game, perhaps bouncing back stronger than ever.

Bertuzzi's attack on Moore, after all, was fueled by vengeance, ostensibly an attempt by Bertuzzi to exact some form of frontier justice for an incident that had taken place weeks earlier (Moore landed a clean hit on Canucks captain Markus Naslund that Vancouver advocates trumpeted as a dirty, unfair blow).

The anger of the moment turned into holy war.

Vancouver had an emotional, aggressive team and was run by the overcaffeinated duo of GM Brian Burke and coach Marc Crawford.

After the Naslund hit, there was actually another game between the Avalanche and Canucks before March 8, but it didn't end the issue.

In the first period of the March 8 game, Moore dropped his gloves and fought Matt Cooke of the Canucks. By the time the Avs were ahead in a game they would win 9-2, TV announcers were practically begging for some form of fistic activity, some expression of the animalistic intent they believed was still harbored in the hearts of the Canucks.

And so Bertuzzi gave it to them, in an unforgettable way.

Fast-forward to the recent GM meetings in Naples, Fla. Burke, who is now the general manager of the Anaheim Ducks (the Canucks fired him before the 2004-05 lockout), led the charge for a rule change that was essentially the first order of business at the meetings.

With a league-leading 55 team-fighting majors at the time, Burke called for a weakening of the rules against instigating fights, specifically lowering the bar for suspensions of players who had incurred multiple instigator fouls. Instead of three instigator penalties resulting in a suspension, the Ducks GM wanted it raised to make room for players to "police" the game in a way the officials and the league could not.

"It's not going to escalate the amount of fighting allowed," Burke told The Los Angeles Times. "But if someone runs my goaltender, I expect someone in black and gold to do something about it."

Burke's colleagues essentially agreed with him, and a recommendation was made to the league's board of governors to raise the total of instigators before suspension to five. Revenge, then, was once again officially recognized as a plausible reason for action, sanctioned by the league as though the Bertuzzi-Moore incident had never happened.

Chris Neil's hit on Buffalo's Chris Drury evoked a retaliatory response from Sabres coach Lindy Ruff.

No one stood up and said, "Isn't this what got us in trouble in the first place?"

Later that same week, Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators decked Buffalo's Chris Drury with a hard, open-ice hit, hitting the Sabres forward from the blind side and driving his shoulder into Drury's jaw. Drury fell, hit his head on the ice and suffered a concussion, one that has kept him out of the Buffalo lineup ever since.

That night, incensed Sabres coach Lindy Ruff immediately put enforcer Andrew Peters and grinding forward Adam Mair out against a group of Senators, including Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza, saying, "Go run 'em." Two nights later, the two teams played again and more fights followed, with the Senators putting their No. 1 goon, Brian McGrattan, into the lineup in place of talented defenseman Joe Corvo.

More revenge in the air. Getting even was on the agenda. The league decided not to suspend Neil for his head shot.

At the Feb. 28 trade deadline, a punctuation mark was added to the vigilante mood as Pittsburgh acquired the league's top heavyweight, Georges Laraque, ostensibly to "protect" the league's leading scorer, Sidney Crosby. It was Dominic Moore, Steve's brother, who was traded to the Wild to make room for Laraque, an irony noticed by few.

The notion, which was propagated mostly by those who believe fighting is an antidote to other problems in the game, was that Laraque would ride shotgun for Crosby as Dave Semenko once did for Wayne Gretzky. Crosby hasn't been abused a great deal this season, but those inclined to legitimize the need for goons in the game whipped up the perception he was under attack virtually every night and needed a bodyguard.

The concept of an eye for an eye is still very much alive. Also prevalent is the idea that teams can't wait for the NHL to maintain law and order and are prepared to exact justice in their own way.

Case in point: last Friday. Tomas Kaberle of the Toronto Maple Leafs was flattened with a late, high hit by New Jersey enforcer Cam Janssen, precisely the type of Laraque-like player who believes in "the code."

Instead of policing the game, it was Janssen who needed to be policed. Kaberle fell heavily into the boards and was sent to the hospital with a concussion, while Janssen was eventually suspended for three games. The impotence of the response has many crying out for the Leafs to take revenge when the two clubs meet March 20 in Toronto.

"For [Janssen], it's not a big deal," said Leafs forward Darcy Tucker. "For the rest of his teammates, it's going to be a big deal. He has to understand his two minutes a game isn't going to matter. It's the rest of the [Devils] who play 20 minutes a game that are going to have to answer for what he did."

In other words, it's not over.

More to the point, the message was that the suspension meted out by the league wasn't enough; the Leafs, apparently, will deal out more adequate punishment. And if something happens to another Devils player, or to Janssen, how will the NHL account for it?

Yes, hockey is an emotional game played by emotional men in the NHL, and there's plenty of history to suggest this is the way it's always been and this is the way it must stay. Certainly those who buy into that way of thinking do so with vigor. Oppose them, and they respond with curses, threats and volume.

The pro-fighting, pro-vigilantism crowd was egged on last fall with the release of a curious study by a group at Colorado College. It suggested that teams which incur more major penalties, such as for fighting, actually win more games.

Forget that the Hurricanes won the Cup last June without an enforcer in the lineup all season and without exacting a pound of flesh from Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, whose hit knocked out star Carolina forward Erik Cole with a serious neck injury during the season.

Forget that at the time of the Naples GM meetings, the Detroit Red Wings had only six fighting majors and were neck and neck with Burke's Ducks in the standings.

So has the NHL progressed since Moore was felled by Bertuzzi?

Well, hockey may have slightly. This year, the Ontario Hockey League, one of the key junior feeder leagues to the NHL, enacted a new set of rules for head checking, designed to rid the game of that particular problem.

The NHL? Hard to say. This season has been fairly uneventful in terms of brawling and disciplinary problems, but after fighting dropped in 2005-06, it's back up again. The overall mood, given the GM meetings, the Buffalo-Ottawa confrontations and the newfound legitimacy accorded to a player like Laraque, is returning to pre-lockout notions of frontier justice.

The NHL seems disinclined to intervene. With accusations in the wind that its game is less rambunctious than it was before the lockout, the Bettman administration has seemed more oriented toward allowing more rough stuff as an answer to its critics.

Notoriety, it appears, will do if popularity remains elusive.

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The biggest problem in the league right now is that there is absolutely no respect amongst players in the NHL these days. This leads to all the injuries because the goons of the league get onto the ice and want to kill someone, no matter who it is. Janssen is the perfect example. Being from New Jersey, I unfortunately have to see a lot of the Devils and anyone who watches even one game can see that the guy almost has 'roid rage. Every time he gets on the ice, he charges at someone like he wants to kill them. He's always leaving his feet and constantly leads with the elbow. I don't know if anyone ever saw a certain 'Coach's Corner' but Don Cherry once hammered a nail into a board with an elbow pad. Those things can be weapons. The league needs to start handing out longer suspensions to guys who take no regard for the safety of other players.

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The biggest problem in the league right now is that there is absolutely no respect amongst players in the NHL these days. This leads to all the injuries because the goons of the league get onto the ice and want to kill someone, no matter who it is. Janssen is the perfect example. Being from New Jersey, I unfortunately have to see a lot of the Devils and anyone who watches even one game can see that the guy almost has 'roid rage. Every time he gets on the ice, he charges at someone like he wants to kill them. He's always leaving his feet and constantly leads with the elbow. I don't know if anyone ever saw a certain 'Coach's Corner' but Don Cherry once hammered a nail into a board with an elbow pad. Those things can be weapons. The league needs to start handing out longer suspensions to guys who take no regard for the safety of other players.

I agree with ya, the league should show some stones and give these guys longer suspensions.

Even so, Janssens should have had his head bashed in by a Leaf player. What happened instead was the gutless puke Travis Green was the only guy who had a word with Janssens. :rolleyes: The game at Air Canada Center on March 20 should be interesting. :check::fight:

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The biggest problem in the league right now is that there is absolutely no respect amongst players in the NHL these days. This leads to all the injuries because the goons of the league get onto the ice and want to kill someone, no matter who it is. Janssen is the perfect example. Being from New Jersey, I unfortunately have to see a lot of the Devils and anyone who watches even one game can see that the guy almost has 'roid rage. Every time he gets on the ice, he charges at someone like he wants to kill them. He's always leaving his feet and constantly leads with the elbow. I don't know if anyone ever saw a certain 'Coach's Corner' but Don Cherry once hammered a nail into a board with an elbow pad. Those things can be weapons. The league needs to start handing out longer suspensions to guys who take no regard for the safety of other players.

Its interesting that leagues like the NFL will enforce (sometimes ridiculous) penalties when they happen to their star players (especially Tom Brady) but the NHL is silent when players like Crosby get speared and Kaberle gets handed his head. I am not saying a double standard is the way to go, but if the league allows their stars to be treated in a shoddy manner, they will be more injured and less likely to be in the game long enough to help its popularity.

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I think the players have to be held responsible to a certain degree. Why don't they say something to the league instead of waiting for the league to do something. The players should be able to police themselves to a certain degree. On the topic of enforcers if you are going to have one they have to bring some other skills to the table ex: Mair, Laraque, and Tucker.

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If you're going to allow the players to police their own ice, then the instigator penalty has to go. It's an absolutely ridiculous call that should only be issued in extreme instances. Most of the guys in the league want nothing to do with fighting, but they ones who know how and more importantly, WHEN to fight, need to be able to protect their teammates without the concern of a retaliation suspension.

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If you're going to allow the players to police their own ice, then the instigator penalty has to go. It's an absolutely ridiculous call that should only be issued in extreme instances. Most of the guys in the league want nothing to do with fighting, but they ones who know how and more importantly, WHEN to fight, need to be able to protect their teammates without the concern of a retaliation suspension.

I don't have a problem with them doing it. The players are the ones getting hurt and they are the ones that have to step up.

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I don't have a problem with that either. This league is filled with big boys who know the consequences of their actions. HOWEVER, when it comes to the headhunting stuff, there needs to be a line drawn. The problem is, if the league wants to go to a no-tolerance policy, then it's going to turn into a situation where suspensions are going to be issued for plays that might not have warranted one in the past. Frankly, I think if a concussion is suffered on a play where even the slightest bit of decent was shown, it should be a suspension.

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I don't have a problem with that either. This league is filled with big boys who know the consequences of their actions. HOWEVER, when it comes to the headhunting stuff, there needs to be a line drawn. The problem is, if the league wants to go to a no-tolerance policy, then it's going to turn into a situation where suspensions are going to be issued for plays that might not have warranted one in the past. Frankly, I think if a concussion is suffered on a play where even the slightest bit of decent was shown, it should be a suspension.

I agree- and now we have the Simon play which is getting major coverage (suprise, suprise) over at the WWL. 3 questionable (well there is nothing questionable about what Simon did) incidents over the last 3 or so weeks. Hopefully the NHL will do something to curb this behavior....

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Oh my God...I saw it live as it happened. What a dirtbag move that was. Simon could have killed Hollweg if he hit him in the right spot. Ryan is lucky that he caught most of that stick in the chin and then the lower neck. If that stick hits him either directly in the throat or in the area of the nose, Hollweg is in serious trouble. That was one of the worst cheapshots I've ever seen in my entire time being a hockey fan. The hit that Hollweg put on Simon was basically a clean hit(yeah Simon's head was down but Hollweg never would've been able to pull off by the time he would've seen this) but good GOD man why would you swing at him like you're chopping down a tree?? Good for Karel Rachunek and Sean Avery for attacking Simon after that. They stuck up for their teammate and that's what we need to see more of. I cannot for the life of me comprehend why Simon snapped like that. Hopefully he'll be suspended for a good 50 games. Inexcusable.

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Oh my God...I saw it live as it happened. What a dirtbag move that was. Simon could have killed Hollweg if he hit him in the right spot. Ryan is lucky that he caught most of that stick in the chin and then the lower neck. If that stick hits him either directly in the throat or in the area of the nose, Hollweg is in serious trouble. That was one of the worst cheapshots I've ever seen in my entire time being a hockey fan. The hit that Hollweg put on Simon was basically a clean hit(yeah Simon's head was down but Hollweg never would've been able to pull off by the time he would've seen this) but good GOD man why would you swing at him like you're chopping down a tree?? Good for Karel Rachunek and Sean Avery for attacking Simon after that. They stuck up for their teammate and that's what we need to see more of. I cannot for the life of me comprehend why Simon snapped like that. Hopefully he'll be suspended for a good 50 games. Inexcusable.

I saw it on sportscenter last night after I heard about it on another message board, let's see what the NHL does this time. I immediately thought of a similar incident in the AHL a few years ago between Perezhogin and Garret Stafford. Perezhogin was suspended for the rest of the playoffs, the whole 04-05 AHL season. He was also charged by the Hamilton police which he ended up serving 1 year of probation, $5,000 fine (given to charity) and had to pay Stafford's medical bills. The ironic part was that Stafford was suspended for 6 games as a part of this incident.

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TSN reported early Saturday that Simon had been suspended 22 games — the Islanders' final 15 games of the regular season and seven postseason games. TSN has since retracted that story, confirming that no decision on the suspension has yet been reached. The NHL says such reports are incorrect. So now everyone gets to wait.

Simon is a brainless moron and is not a stable individual, as proven the other night. This is the sixth time he has been suspended, if I'm not mistaken. If he gets banned for life, it would be the right thing for the NHL to do. He has been given plenty of rope over his career and it won't be long before he permanently injures or even kills someone. Simon's hit makes McSorley's hit on Brashear look like child's pay. I've seen a similar hit in the WCHL back in the 1999 when Jason MacIntyre of the Phoenix Mustangs played Paul Bunyan on Tacoma's Thom Cullen. He was charged with 3rd-degree assault and banned for life.

BTW, ESPN held a player'ssurveyand:

WHO IS THE DIRTIEST PLAYER IN THE NHL?

• TOP VOTE-GETTER: Sean Avery (38%).

• More on Avery | Statistics | Kings page

• Known for his controversial comments off the ice, Sean Avery is one of the toughest players to face if you're on the other side of the line, which some might find surprising because of his 5-foot-9 frame. He is an aggressive player (he led the league with 257 PIM last season) who has been criticized at times for untimely, unnecessary penalties.

• OTHER MENTIONS: Jarkko Ruutu, Penguins (13%); Jordin Tootoo, Predators (13%); Darcy Tucker, Maple Leafs (11%); Darius Kasparaitis, Rangers (9%); Matthew Barnaby, Stars (4%); Denis Gauthier, Flyers (4%); Ryan Hollweg, Rangers (3%); Steve Ott, Stars (3%); Matt Cooke, Canucks (3%).

I am unsure why Simon wasn't even a choice.

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Reports are saying 15 games and 7 playoff games for Simon. That's absolutely absurd.

I think the viciousness of Simon's actions warrant a suspension for the rest of the season. Whatever you want to say about the preceeding hit, there is NO excuse for what he did. Plain and simple. He should be suspended accordingly.

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Actually the official report is that he is suspended for the rest of the regular season and the rest of the playoffs. If those games don't amount to 25 games this year then it'll carry over to the start of next year.

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Actually the official report is that he is suspended for the rest of the regular season and the rest of the playoffs. If those games don't amount to 25 games this year then it'll carry over to the start of next year.

I think that is an acceptable length of time. It was a vicious action that deserves a long rest on the pine. I found it interesting that HBO Real Sports did a follow up piece on Ted Nolan and they ended with Nolan bringing back Chris Simon and how Nolan saved Simon before in life etc. Check it out if you haven't seen it.

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Eh...I'm kind of in the air about the result. Yeah, 25 games is the longest suspension on record in NHL history but it just doesn't really sit well with me. I know that Hollweg wasn't injured too badly when Simon hit him, but I really think intent should've been taken into account more. Simon could've killed Hollweg with that hit if the stick is placed properly and I don't know if Colin Campbell and the rest of the league really took that all into consideration. But what's done is done I guess. It doesn't matter now.

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Eh...I'm kind of in the air about the result. Yeah, 25 games is the longest suspension on record in NHL history but it just doesn't really sit well with me. I know that Hollweg wasn't injured too badly when Simon hit him, but I really think intent should've been taken into account more. Simon could've killed Hollweg with that hit if the stick is placed properly and I don't know if Colin Campbell and the rest of the league really took that all into consideration. But what's done is done I guess. It doesn't matter now.

Intent should be the factor in any suspension. Whether a player is hurt or not should be irrelevant. Of course, its hard to judge intent in situations (not the Simon one) but others for sure. What is "finishing a check" versus giving a guy more of "the business" except intent which shows up just about the same on the ice.

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