• Cost of a big hit

    by  • April 19, 2012 • Hockey • 39 Comments

    I feel like my bonafides as an anti-gratuitous violence guy are pretty well established. I’d be fine if the NHL ditched fighting. I’ve advocated in favour of banning headshots from hockey since virtually the day I started writing this website. So it’s a bit unusual for me to look around and see that I’m nodding in agreement when reading what guys like Jeff Marek and Jason Gregor have to say about an issue of violence in hockey.

    As you may have heard, Raffi Torres ran into Marian Hossa last night. Hard. If you knew nothing about Raffi Torres except what you’ve read today, you’d probably think he was history’s greatest monster. Let’s take Mark Spector as an example. Here’s what he had to say about Torres today, in a piece entitled “HOCKEY’S BIGGEST PUNK“:

    From Milan Michalek, to Brent Seabrook, to Marian Hossa, to Jordan Eberle, to Andrew Ference, to Jan Hejda, to Nate Prosser, Torres has never met an opponent he had an ounce of respect for.

    Today he is the game’s preeminent head hunter. Today, Raffi Torres is clearly, the biggest punk in the game of hockey.

    On Tuesday night Torres claimed the belt, as well as his latest victim, with a typically predatory hit on Hossa. It was like so many others by Torres, who floats from team to team to team, each one pleased that they’ve picked up “a game-changer,” then liking themselves even more when they part ways, deciding that their organization is better than that.

    That is unusually rough.

    As for Torres, another real deep thinker, he spoke on his own behalf after the game Tuesday, but it was quick and he said little. It’s a slight improvement from when he was injuring people for Vancouver, where he preferred to hide from the media altogether after one of his hits.

    What did Spector have to say last year, after the hits he’s now treating as evidence of Torres’ predatory nature?

    The hit Torres laid on Eberle Wednesday in Edmonton has, for as long as hockey players have gathered to play full-contact hockey, been considered a clean, hard check.

    The play that Eberle made – extending to reach for a puck, leaving himself vulnerable for Torres to abandon the puck and choose the hit instead – has for as long as I have covered hockey represented a textbook example of putting yourself in a vulnerable position.

    Torres’ elbow was in tight and he never left his feet. It is – or should we say, was – a textbook clean hit.

    Huh. That was actually exactly what I said when Raffi hit him. Maybe Spector had something nastier to say when Torres drilled Seabrook?

    In my mind, both Torres hits were dead clean – two years ago. His elbow was tight, his skates on the ice, and (sorry Duncan), the puck was there both times.

    Say what you want – as long as the National Hockey League is fine with that check, then Torres is doing his job to a tee,

    Huh. While I’m not sure how he can say that the hit on Eberle represented a changing point while at the same time saying that both hits were clean two years ago but that’s neither here nor there. His comments last year don’t seem particularly condemnatory (apparently a word, if the lack of red lines under it are to be believed) either. It seems little unfair to label a guy HOCKEY’S BIGGEST PUNK for his vicious, predatory hits if, at the time he made them, you weren’t condemning them but were, in fact calling them “clean, hard checks” and acknowledging that he was “doing his job to a tee.”

    I initially had a whole thing written about Torres, offering some defence of him. I decided to delete it. I don’t intend to pick on Spector here – he’s not alone in having swung so much against hits like the one Torres threw on Hossa. The fact of the matter is, what’s acceptable in hockey is changing and it’s made a bit more complicated by the fact that the role of hitting has changed over the years. Whereas it used to be about separating players from the puck, it’s become de rigeur to put hit a guy even once he’s released the puck. The longer a guy has to be worry about getting drilled after losing the puck, the more likely his attention will waver and the more likely he’ll get caught by someone who made a bad decision.

    As far as I can tell, nobody can say that the hit on Hossa was anything more than a hockey play that he botched. Like screwing up his timing on a shot, only with a guy leaving the ice on a stretcher. You can say he jumped – he did come off the ice – but if Hossa’s a step closer, Torres drives up through his chest with his legs, which is sort of the textbook way to hit these days. It’s funny – I’m not sure the whole “Are his feet on the ice?” standard even makes any sense. I’m not a physicist but it seems unlikely to me that there’s much difference between driving through a guy with your legs and jumping – driving through a guy with your legs is just a jump that ran into something. One’s legal, the other isn’t.

    Whatever you might say about Torres, he doesn’t have the track record of a guy like Matt Cooke. He doesn’t have a rap sheet full of nasty elbows, cross checks to the face, knee on knee hits or dangerous hits from behind. Spector says he’s predatory and, in a sense, I suppose he is. He’s close enough to the edge though that on basically all of the plays that people condemn (Ference was an exception), you can say it’s a hockey play gone wrong. Some of them, like the Eberle hit, are still difficult to understand (at the very least, the elbowing major was incomprehensible). Whether it’s Torres or someone else, as long as the line is drawn where it currently is, a guy who makes what can reasonably be seen as a mistake in judgment is going to result in guys getting absolutely destroyed.

    In other words, Torres isn’t really the problem. The problem, to the extent that there is one, is a system of rules that renders guys fair game for a long time after they get rid of the puck. The problem is a mishmash rule about when you can hit a guy in the head. As long as hits like the Torres hit can be within a step of being legal, guys are going to miss their assessment of the line and cross it. When you draw these lines, you have to allow for some user error – it’s a fast game. Drawing the lines where the NHL has drawn them, you’re just begging for incidents like Torres on Hossa. The easy thing to do afterwards is to pretend that Torres is a really dirty player and that he always has been.

    That doesn’t make it the truth and, if it’s not the truth, suspending Torres for ten games doesn’t really do anything to address the problem. Listing his history of hits that are over the line misleads, because, as Spector used to know, those hits were clean hockey hits for a long time. If you’re worked up about the Hossa hit and don’t acknowledge that the line being drawn where it is practically begs for guys to miss the line like Torres did, well, I don’t think you’re serious about solving the problem. You want the morality of being outraged while still getting the rush of watching all the awesome hits that fall on just the right side of the line (or that involve a star, or where the hittee doesn’t get hurt and we pretend it wasn’t as bad as the Torres hit).

    The world does not, I would suggest, work that way. As long as you have a line, you’re going to have people who, in good faith, miss it. Condemning them for doing that might result in a pleasing sense of moral goodness, but it’s not a serious way to eliminate these sorts of incident in the future.

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    39 Responses to Cost of a big hit

    1. April 19, 2012 at

      Nicely put.

      I don’t know what you deleted, but despite the fact that I agree with those who say he hits to hurt (and the majority of NHLer simply do not), I totally agree that he’s not Matt Cooke II.

      On top of the reasons you noted, I would observe that none of these borderline hits are instances where he has either lost his temper or lost his mind. No revenge hits because he’s pissed off that he or a teammate just got smoked; no insane headhunting down 3 goals with 70 seconds in the game; none of the things that Shanahan often cites as aggravating factors.

      Because the hit was illegal (bit late, bit high) and he causes what looks like a serious injury, I’m ok with a non-trivial suspension — you have to suffer for the consequences of your bad actions, not just for your bad actions. But pretending that this hit was some kind of poster clip for “what the NHL is trying to get rid of” is crazy, and also completely untrue.

    2. Markph
      April 19, 2012 at

      Nice article.

      Like most people, I have no qualms with the NHL suspending Torres for the hit on Hossa, which was clearly a reckless play from a guy who has a history of reckless hitting.

      That said, it’s time for the NHL to start weighing “intent” into the equation. If Torres gets a longer suspension than Keith did for the hit on Sedin, it’ll be an absolute tragedy. Surely the league can’t try to say that a seemingly deliberate and calculated elbow to the head is somehow more egregious than a reckless body check….

      • Markph
        April 19, 2012 at

        ^^ sorry, that should read “LESS” egregious.

      • Bubba
        April 20, 2012 at

        If Torres gets a longer suspension than Kieth understand that it will totally come from Shaney’s mandate to more severely punish repeat offenders. For Keith it was his first offence and for Torres this is his 5th or 6th. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get more than 5.

    3. John
      April 19, 2012 at

      I think the reason jumping into a hit is illegal is not necessarily the impact, but the fact that if you’re leaving your feet, you’re almost always targeting an opponent’s head, unless you’re exceptionally short.

      It’s pretty hard to argue along the lines of, “I was not trying to hit his head,” when you jump.

      • rsm
        April 19, 2012 at

        You might want to consider physics before you jump to a jumping conclusion.
        If Torres is trying to push through the center mass of Hossa with a hard check he needs the power from his legs. If he’s off on his timing it’ll look like a jump, and if he hits it bang on all you’ll see is Hossa getting hit. Just as Tyler says in the post: “driving through a guy with your legs is just a jump that ran into something.”

        • Melime
          April 19, 2012 at

          Not sure which writer/broadcaster wrote/said it last night, but they said that Torres is always “half a second late”. And as Bob McKenzie pointed out, half a second is an eternity in hockey terms. Torres’s “edge” is that his timing is LOUSY. Were he better able to judge timing – and more importantly, trajectory – some of his hits *would be* nothing more than “a hockey play”, clean hits. But he can’t. So he’s dangerous. And he has no obvious remorse when he injures somebody.

          Gallery of his hits compiled by CSN today: http://www.csnchicago.com/hockey-chicago-blackhawks/blackhawks-talk/A-look-at-Torres-history?blockID=691840&feedID=10334

          There’s a couple problems right now.

          1) The league is busy selling hits & fights because they know it gets fans worked up and excited. It drives discussion and site hits. But side by side with the “look at this hit!!” videos are the inevitable suspension videos.

          2) Enough coaches, broadcasters, etc., are “old school” hockey. They come from the pre-lockout, pre-headshots-are-a-no-no era – a time when a lot more physicality was accepted on the ice. To them, these kind of hits are “hockey hits”, so they pass down the culture. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of players on the ice these days who don’t understand “The Code”, so they’re in that odd limbo between carrying on that old school behavior and then being puzzled when they get whistled for it/collect suspensions.

          Phoenix coaches and players are busy saying they didn’t see the hit, and those who did are busy saying it’s a “hockey play”. Yet a few nights earlier, Shaw went to make a typical “hockey play” – you’ll see players brush the goalie playing the puck behind the net frequently – and whether a misjudgement in speed or angle, ended up colliding with Smith – and the team was quick to say “those are the kind of hits the NHL is trying to eliminate”, etc etc. Well … which is it, Phoenix? Smith was on the receiving end of a hockey play that went bad, but Smith got up, played a great game, and was in again last night; team calls for Shaw’s head. Torres is late, leaves feet, knocks an opponent out cold who is then strapped to a board and goes to hospital, going to miss at least one game minimum – ooohh, Hossa should just suck it up, it’s a hockey play.

          At the rate Phoenix is going, who’s next? Are they going to take out Toews in game 4, and Kane in game 5?

          • Bruce McCurdy
            April 19, 2012 at

            Agreed on hypocrisy w.r.t. involved teams. I made the same point in discussing Torres’ headshot on Eberle a year ago (the one Tyler insists was clean), which I compared to the Steve Moore hit on Markus Naslund that triggered some very nasty fallout, in large part because the Canucks were incensed that Moore wasn’t punished. Torres was punished for the Eberle hit, deservedly so IMO, and deserves to be again this time. His m.o. is to hit vulnerable opponents as hard and high as possible, damn the consequences. He’s got quite a body count in his wake and needs to be accountable for that.

            Videos of both the Moore-Naslund and Torres-Eberle incidents were embedded in that write-up last April, which from Torres’ perspective was about six headshots ago.

            http://blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2011/04/07/torres-suspended-four-games-for-head-shot-on-eberle/

            • dawgbone
              April 19, 2012 at

              Except at the time of the Moore hit, the head shot rule was not in place. If that hit happens in 2012, Moore gets suspended (same with the Richards-Booth hit and Nash-Peca hits).

              I kind of disagree with Tyler that the Torres-Eberle hit was a clean hit. It was a clean hit before the new rule was in place, but not after. Torres may not have targetted Eberle’s head, but he made direct contact with it, from a sideways angle. That’s exactly the hit the NHL wants removed.

        • FastOil
          April 19, 2012 at

          When you are running, and want to go faster, does the extra energy from your legs make you jump in the air? Do soccer players bound like gazelles?

          Players that go airborne are choosing to do it. It is not a natural occurence of leg drive on skates or even in shoes. Quite the opposite in my experience skating. Jumping shows an intent to do more damage than what would occur under a normal skates on ice impact, which I am sure is why it’s illegal – intent.

          A solid hard hit can be delivered without having to destroy an opponent. Brown’s hit on Sedin and Raffi’s on Hossa are about taking players out – they are predatory by nature, even if “clean”. There is no hockey reason to do it.

          The world is changing, and gratitious violence just isn’t as much fun now as when I was a kid. But even then I thought Stevens was a cheap shot artist because he was so late with his hits. What the league should realize is that for every supporter of excessive and dangerous play, there is almost certainly many more quietly against it.

          I don’t see how hockey will grow new fans to a significant degree until it can be seen as just and sensible to a new viewer. Even application of the rules and action against egregious play. Your average person doesn’t want to see blood and teeth all over the ice and stretchers being used. The actual speed and skill part might interest them.

          • Doogie2K
            April 20, 2012 at

            No, but jumping IS the inevitable outcome of “exploding upward” with your legs to drive your shoulder into someone is. Misjudge your timing, you hit air.

            I’ve been citing this one a lot the last couple of days, but I think this Cam Neely roll is evidence that it wasn’t always done like that, and doesn’t have to be. Much easier to control the arms than it is your entire trunk.

          • Oilswell
            April 21, 2012 at

            “Gratuitous violence isn’t as much fun now”

            Have you been following PC and console games recently? MMA? Top grossing films?

            Loads of people still enjoy villians and violence. Go to some AHL (or lower) professional leagues and I’m not sure they draw enough without fighting.

            This years’ playoffs is certainly exciting because of the excellent defensive plays and breathtaking goaltending. Not the cage match, no way. The relaxing of the officiating in the regular season building up to the playoffs? Pure coincidence.

    4. Scott
      April 19, 2012 at

      As (I believe) Jesse Rogers wrote, unless you think attempted murder and murder should carry the same legal weight, then the results of the hit do have to play some part in the punishment

      • dog
        April 19, 2012 at

        surely that was Lord Denning ?

    5. April 19, 2012 at

      From watching Torres in Vancouver, both when he was playing for the Canucks and when he was playing for other teams, it strikes me that Torres isn’t really dirty or cheap; he’s just kind of thoughtless. I want to say dumb, but that’s not exactly fair. He ends up making reckless and dangerous hits, not because he wants to hurt people, but almost like he’s unaware that what he’s doing could hurt people.

      I hated that hit on Hossa: it’s not just poorly timed, it’s late. Very late. And as much as the difference between leaving one’s feet on a hit and driving through a guy’s chest is a minor difference, it’s one that has to be taken seriously.

    6. Char
      April 19, 2012 at

      Wait, what? So Raffi Torres isn’t that bad, because some idiot media person has done an about-face? It isn’t Torres, it’ “society”?

      I’m not buying it for one second. I’ve been watching Torres and his Amazing Flying Elbows play for years, and the only question I’ve ever had about the guy is not IF he disables/kills someone, but WHEN. Sit his ass for half a season and maybe that’ll get through to him.

      • dawgbone
        April 19, 2012 at

        Except Torres doesn’t elbow people, he hits them with his shoulder.

        • Char
          April 19, 2012 at

          Torres doesn’t elbow people? Right. And black is white, up is down, slavery is freedom.

          He didn’t hit Hossa with an elbow, shockingly. But it doesn’t matter. He threw his shoulder into Hossa’s jaw. Whether it was his shoulder, elbow, fist, stick or a tire iron, it was a predatory hit to the head. Period.

          Torres doesn’t elbow people. My God.

          • Tyler Dellow
            April 19, 2012 at

            Uh, do you have an example of Torres elbowing someone?

          • dawgbone
            April 19, 2012 at

            None of the list of dangerous hits he’s thrown involve an elbow. His thing has always been shoulder contact to the head, all the way back to Michalek in the playoffs of 06.

    7. Tyler Dellow
      April 19, 2012 at

      I kind of disagree with Tyler that the Torres-Eberle hit was a clean hit. It was a clean hit before the new rule was in place, but not after. Torres may not have targetted Eberle’s head, but he made direct contact with it, from a sideways angle. That’s exactly the hit the NHL wants removed.

      Perhaps fittingly (and entirely in keeping with my point), Torres-Eberle is a marginal example of this. The hits that triggered that change were Cooke-Savard and Booth-Richards. In both case, the player had given up the puck and the hitter came from the other way and blatantly targetted the head.

      Eberle hadn’t given up on the puck and was reaching with his head down low. Torres’ angle was much moe from the front.

      • TMS71
        April 20, 2012 at

        Eberle did not have the puck. He was reaching for it but he he hadn’t touched it yet. That is interference. You should not be able to hit the guy until he touches the puck. Paajarvi had shot the puck wide from the left wing side and Eberle was chasing it into the right wing corner. He was reaching for it but HE HAD NOT EVEN TOUCHED IT. That is interference. That is what makes the hit so dangerous. He knew that he hadn’t touched the puck yet and he knew that he wasn’t allowed to get hit until he touched the puck. So he had every reason to think he wasn’t going to be hit. But Torres plays by his own rules and so he didn’t bother to wait for him to touch the puck – he intercepted him right before he got to the puck – and blasted him.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRzzZ8GUkig

        The same thing was true of the Seabrook hit. Yeah Seabrook was looking back for the puck but he hadn’t touched it yet. In the original post you printed the quote of the guy who said it was ok because the puck was there. Sorry but that is wrong. The player has to touch the puck before you hit him. Just because the puck is in the vicinity doesn’t make the hit legal. People like to rewrite the rules to suit there own preferences. The rule is not about puck vicinity but rather about possession. You can’t hit a guy until he has possessed the puck. Both hits were very illegal and predatory and dangerous precisely because they were delivered before the player had touched the puck and before they had any reason to expect to get hit. Hitting a guy who you know isn’t expecting it is predatory. And Torres hits at full speed as hard as he possibly can on opponents whom he knows are not suspecting it (because the rules prohibit them being hit in those situations).

        The same is true of the late hit on Hossa. All the focus on whether he left his feet is just misdirected. He hit Hossa well after he had released the puck and so had every reason to believe that he was no longer fair game. Another situation where the target is not expecting to be hit. This is what Torres does and why he is so thoroughly loathsome.

        • dawgbone
          April 20, 2012 at

          Are you suggesting that as a player, when you reach for the puck you don’t expect to get hit until the moment you touch it?

          I can understand the argument on a hit where the puck is 40 feet away, but Eberle missed the puck by about 4 inches, there’s no way he should be not expecting a hit in that scenario.

          So yes it is interference, but I don’t buy notion that these guys shouldn’t be prepared for a hit until they touch the puck.

          • TMS71
            April 20, 2012 at

            Yes that is what I am suggesting. The puck was way out in front of him. Torres ignored it completely and just blasted Eberle. He had every reason to not expect to get hit there and to be honest Torres is one of very few guys who would have actually hit him there. The ‘head contact’ thing is a distraction from the real issue here. If you are going to hit him there it would be almost impossible to avoid hitting him in the head as he is leaning forward and his head is about at waist level. The problem with that hit is that he had no right to hit him there and Eberle knew it.

    8. freeze
      April 19, 2012 at

      Spec has been getting more and more extreme and over-the-top lately. Maybe it is a persona he has adopted but I’m finding him tiring. I enjoy his segments on Gregor’s show for the most part but his show and his SN.com writing is hard to take. The Torres article is one example, as was his Loungo’s done in Van headline.

    9. April 19, 2012 at

      Skeeter: No, I think your first thought was correct: he’s dumb.

      Torres has evolved – or perhaps devolved – into a sideshow. After his 2006 run with Peca-Pisani he ended up joined at the hip in Edm with Stoll and they looked like a combo that could play at least secondary matchup min. Now, and I haven’t looked at BTN to see what kind of role he played in Phx, he’s just a guy who still has a job because he’s a dangerous wrecking ball.

    10. Tyler
      April 19, 2012 at

      Tough to say Torres isn’t a Cadillac 9/10 F. Zone start under 30 in Vancouver, Corsi of -3. Positive Corsi this year. Good goal scoring numbers. Costs the same as Ryan Jones. Worth mentioning he was a depth guy on two Finalists with notable dePth. I’d love to have him back.

    11. Tom Benjamin
      April 19, 2012 at

      I agree entirely with Tyler’s post. Setting aside the impossible snarl of legal/illegal, and the suspension or not standards – Who the hell knows anymore? – the key point is that the NHL approach is not solving the problem and will never solve the problem.

      The league thinks that big hits and gratuitous violence sells. Trying to maintain more or less the same level of violence while eliminating the 50 or 100 hits a year that cross the line and bring out the stretcher is impossible. They can – and will – vilify and punish Torres but it won’t help. As Tyler points out, the problem is where the line (that should not be crossed) is now placed. Unless that is changed, the league is just pretending to address the issue. Torres will get pasted, and then we will settle back until the next player makes a mistake. Rinse and repeat.

      If we want to solve the problem – and as I said the league does not – the line has to move. First, distinguish between a hockey hit gone wrong and an assault. What Torres did is much less egregious than the Keith elbow on Sedin. Second, give the players less time to make a hit once the puck is gone.

      Would that result in less hitting? Of course. We might get 35,000 or 40,000 hits a year instead of 50,000 hits. But that’s the choice. Fewer ugly incidents – probably not zero, just a lot fewer – is the tradeoff for less hitting. The rest of the argument is noise, in my view.

      One other point – the increased speed in the game has been cited as a cause of the rising concussion rate. Players are hitting with more force. It also has another effect: a guy like Torres has less time in a faster game to decide whether to launch a hit. The extra speed means a guy like Torres is going to make more mistakes. The line that should not be crossed gets crossed more frequently these days because the hitter has less time.

      • icehound
        April 19, 2012 at

        Very well articulated. Thank you.

      • April 22, 2012 at

        Excellent points

    12. Trevor
      April 19, 2012 at

      What confuses me can be outlined in two points: how are very similar hits where the level of injury is wildly different be legal versus not legal, and how can plays much less defined by timing and more about conscious bad decisions escape punishment.

      A case in point is Brown on Henrik recently, versus Torres on Hossa. Torres contact does come higher by virtue of him jumping up, but it’s not excessively later than Brown’s. It’s also worth noting Torres at least has Hossa lined up face to face the whole way, where Brown lines up Henrik looking at his back until the last second. I’ll agree that the technique of Brown’s hit is much less egregious than Torres’, but it bothers me that he was prepared to run him through the back. If he’d had time to hold up in case Henrik didn’t turn, then obviously that points to it being late. If it isn’t late, then he doesn’t have time to hold up and had to expect a good chance of hitting Henrik through the numbers.

      The other plays are pretty clearly defined by the crosschecks, fighting suspensions, and Weber’s WWE move. If you make a decision to put your stick up in the area of an opponent’s face in a crosschecking motion and it makes contact, expect a suspension regardless of damage or injury. If you instigate a fight in the last 5 minutes, or try and force a fight with a player who clearly isn’t interested (and in particular go overboard and keep hitting the player when he’s on the ice), expect a suspension. But if you physically grab a player by the head and choose to try and put his face into the glass, don’t worry about it, particularly at the end of the game when any resulting PP won’t mean a thing.

      All that has the added factor of checking to see if a player was injured or not. The act itself means less than the outcome, but in the cases where the outcome is more severe the punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime. There are too many variables, and while each incident should be judged on it’s own merit, it should be what the player did (was it dangerous, was it a hockey play, was there intent, etc) that has the majority of the weighting. A suspendable offence is still suspendable if no injury results.

    13. RiversQ
      April 19, 2012 at

      Nice piece Tyler. However, I wouldn’t confuse the legality of a player’s hits with whether or not he’s a dirty player though. If a player consistently injures his opponents he’s a dirty player in any sport. Whether or not the rules of the game choose to punish you is largely irrelevant in my eyes. If Zdeno Chara manages to play 80+ games every year without hurting someone everytime out, then fucking Raffi Torres has no real excuse.

    14. Bubba
      April 20, 2012 at

      ” I’d be fine if the NHL ditched fighting. ” you have been away for home too long bud. The local Junior B league I am coaching is following Hockey Canada’s no fighting in the last 10 minutes of the third rule and i have to admit that it is ruining the hockey games. Most of our games roll along fairly cleanly with both teams respecting each other for the most part. Once the last 10 minutes of the 3rd comes along players start spearing, high sticking and generally treating each other with no respect cause there is very little deterrent other than being caught by the referee and you know having played yourself that that isn’t that hard. Now all that said I am against these staged fights just for the sake of a fight and fights just because a star player took a big hit, if the hit was clean then suck it up and play.

      • Adam Dyck
        April 20, 2012 at

        Yeah, but Jungle B is an awful product to begin with, so it makes sense that if you take out fighting it would suck. NHL hockey is, you know, the highest level of hockey there is, and fighting (especially two goons fighting) adds very little to the end product.

        • Bubba
          April 20, 2012 at

          I actually don’t agree with you assessment of Junior B as Jungle B. I our part of the country many of the players that play A and WHL get to play at least 1 season in B and it is real hockey. and as for NHL being the highest level ok but CHL is usually a more entertaining hockey game. In case that you didnt read my whole post I am not for GOONS i think they dont have any place in hockey and never have! I am just talking about fighting being a deterrent to ignorant play.

          • dawgbone
            April 20, 2012 at

            Part of the problem in Tier 2 (And lower) junior is that there are just too many teams.

            The OPJHL (Ontario Junior A) was up to something like 35 teams 5 years ago. The league was just full of guys trying to get noticed by OHL teams via fighting. The league was an absolute shit show. The average game saw roughly 45 minutes in penalties.

            This year, the league was down to 27 teams (with 3 more folding this summer there will be 24 teams next year). The average penalty minutes went down to 36 minutes per game.

            No doubt some of that had to do with few lower quality players taking regular penalties (hooking, holding, etc) against better players, but there were also fewer fights and fighting majors.

            As long as there are too many teams, they are going to allow for meat heads who can’t do anything other than deliver cheap shots of various sorts. Get fewer teams and there is less incentive to have these guys and you’ll see that crap stop real soon.

            Unfortunately, scoring 3 points per game in Tier 2 isn’t going to get you noticed as fast as winning a bunch of fights, so it’s a breeding grounds for guys trying to make their name that way.

    15. Triumph
      April 20, 2012 at

      Great article. What I’m curious about, and I think I’ll look at this myself, is how many suspensions this year were given out on plays that, on the ice, merited either no penalty or a two-minute penalty. My guess is that it’s a very large amount, and it’s precisely because of this effect. The NHL always gets guff from the ‘put on a dress/get your panties unbunched/don’t cry because it will ruin your mascara’ when any technically legal hit is called a penalty – it leads to a lot of no-calls. Furthermore, the standard of a major penalty is only merited when a player is visibly injured.

      Honestly, I’d make boarding/checking from behind/elbowing mandatory 4 minute penalties.

      • Doogie2K
        April 20, 2012 at

        Headshots are 2+10 in international and, I believe, OHL. I’d be fine with that in the NHL.

        • Bubba
          April 23, 2012 at

          That goes for Canadian Amateur as well and it does seem to to be helping decrease head shots.

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