Stoughton is íTobaís finest

TED WYMAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:41 PM ET

The fact Jeff Stoughton has won nine Manitoba menís curling titles is impressive enough in itself.

Also consider that the most decorated skip in Manitobaís rich curling history is the one true constant on the nine teams that have captured Purple Hearts.

Stoughton has had five different thirds (Dave Iverson, Ken Tresoor, Jon Mead, Ryan Fry, Kevin Park) on those championship teams, as well as four different seconds (Tresoor, Garry VanDenBerghe, Rob Fowler, Reid Carruthers) and three different leads (VanDenBerghe, Steve Gould, Doug Armstrong).

Each of those teammates brings something special to the curling rink and were handpicked to give Stoughton the best chance to win, but itís the skipper who has been there each and every time, throwing the brick with all-star quality year after year.

With apologies to all-time greats like Howard Wood, Sr., Gordon Hudson, Ken Watson, Don Duguid and Kerry Burtnyk, itís hard to suggest any of the above were better than Stoughton.

And this guy plays in an era when curlers are athletes, ice is always swingy, the free guard zone is in play and large crowds are watching the playersí every move.

He may rub people the wrong way at times and is sometimes brash in his comments (remember ďBrad Gushue has no chanceĒ) but no one can argue Stoughton is one of the best menís curlers in the history of the sport.

And heís Manitobaís greatest.

FIGHT NIGHT: I am not a proponent of completely removing fighting from hockey, although the game could get along fine without it. There is little or no fighting in the Stanley Cup playoffs when the very best of hockey is on display and thatís all you really need to know.

The recent brawls in the NHL have definitely cast the sport in a bad light but at least they have people talking about hockey and a lot of fans are enjoying the throwback games.

But itís disconcerting that the league has now enraged two of its greatest stars within a matter of weeks.

Both Sidney Crosby, he of the nasty concussion, and Mario Lemieux, owner of the battered and bruised Penguins, have spoken out about the surge of violence in the game.

Sadly, most of what they had to say has fallen on deaf ears and thatís a shame.

When people of that stature speak, everyone in the sport should listen.

QUICK HITS: Zenon Konopka has fired back at Lemieux, saying the Magnificent One is too far removed from the game to be calling last weekís brawl a travesty. So, just for fun, we did some checking. Turns out Zenon Konopka plays in the NHL, with the Islanders. Who knew? Hereís a shock. Heís a goon ... Marioís rant against the NHL might hold more water if he didnít own a team that employs Matt Cooke. Just sayiní ... Michael Grabner has been the best forward in the NHL over the last month. He has been piling up the points, had eight goals last week alone and now the former Moose is being touted as a rookie-of-the-year candidate. Not bad for a guy who was on waivers at the beginning of the season. Whoever said the Islanders never do anything right? ... How will history remember the great Peter Forsberg comeback of 2011? Two games, no points, minus-4. Best for history not to remember it at all.


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