Fight's on to prevent fighting

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

TAMPA -- A knockout punch seems to have changed Bryan Murray's opinion of fighting in the NHL.

The Senators coach told reporters yesterday he believes it could be time for NHL officials to look at the possibility of banning fighting.

The NHL's fighting debate moved to the forefront again after Philadelphia Flyers winger Todd Fedoruk was knocked out and taken off on a stretcher after he was clocked by New York Rangers forward Colton Orr on Wednesday night.

"Maybe it is time to talk about it a little bit," said Murray. "I think (fighting) has its place, but when I see the kids getting hurt the way they are now ... I don't think anybody wants that to happen."

Murray admits it's difficult for him to think this way. He's long believed fighting has its place because he doesn't like when the opponent takes advantage of the club's skilled players.

"I've always been of the mind that players can police themselves in a proper way and that leads to the occasional fight," said Murray. "What I meant by that was if a player on your team got run, somebody on the ice should try to look after it and not count on the referee every time. There's no question there's been some devastating punches thrown and some guys are finding that they can't defend themselves properly or the heavyweight is really becoming a top heavyweight now."

Senators winger Brian McGrattan, who has had only a limited role this year, said he's hopeful the debate over fighting will fade away.

"You don't want to see a guy get seriously injured. I doubt they will (ban it)," said McGrattan. "They're focused on (fighting) because that's the biggest thing that has happened in the last week. Maybe something will happen next week and they'll forget about it.

"It's still part of the game. I don't really go out trying to really hurt somebody. I do it for emotion, some excitement and I'm not going out there trying to put guys out and put them out for a long time. I'm just going out and if it's good fight, it's a good fight. I'm just trying to put on a good show for the team and for the fans. Sometimes, stuff like that happens."

If the league is serious about banning fighting -- and there are many who would like it out of the game -- the discussions would have to start with NHL VP Colin Campbell and the GMs.

Murray said the role of the fighter has diminished.

"I'm torn a little bit now and I never was before," he said. "I was always one that believed that there's a place for the fighting. More often than not now, two things happen: The two heavyweights square off to justify their position, which wasn't the case in the past, or somebody gets jumped that can't handle it at all and really gets beaten up. Maybe I'm sympathetic today 'cause' I saw the kid go down with a thunderous punch and I've seen a couple of them this year I've never seen before."


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