Goons out of style

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

These are the dark days for goons with fighting becoming a hollow exercise in the new-look NHL.

"You don't need them," Detroit Red Wings senior vice-president Jimmy Devellano said of the tough guys. "All they do is get you penalties."

If you scan NHL rosters, you'll find a deliberate trend. Fewer clubs see the need for someone whose sole function is to fight, including the Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche.

The day of the goon "is over already," Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. "I still love physical players and I love having them in my lineup but if you can't skate, you can't even get involved in the play."

For one thing, the avalanche of penalties means slow-footed players can't impede faster ones.

"The thing is, there have been so many penalties," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "If we go through eight, 10 minutes of penalties, who am I going to put out? It's not too likely I'm going to put out our tough guy. There's just not enough five-on-five play for a one-dimensional player any more."

The Leafs' Tie Domi has managed the transition, but goon Wade Belak probably doesn't have the skill to make the switch, and the same probably goes for Nathan Perrott.

"When division rivalries heat up," Ruff said, "I see it coming back, but right now, I don't see it."


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