SUN Hockey Pool

NHL stars fighting more

Crosby scrapped Matt Niskanen of the Dallas Stars. (NHL.com)

Crosby scrapped Matt Niskanen of the Dallas Stars. (NHL.com)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:45 PM ET

It’s a debate in the Stampede City every time Jarome Iginla drops the gloves.

Should a star player fight?

At least Iginla has plenty of experience duking it out.

Imagine what coaches feel when Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk or Washington’s Mike Green get into a taffy-pull.

It’s happened already this season.

Talk about a strange first four weeks with impact players fighting.

Sure, it’s not out of line if you look into the past with guys like Rocket Richard, Gordie Howe, Cam Neely, Mark Messier, Bobby Orr, Larry Robinson and Brad Park all being good with their hands.

But does anybody expect today’s star players to be scrapping?

We’ve only played four weeks of the season, and Datsyuk — a four-time Lady Byng Trophy winner — fought Anheim’s Corey Perry, Crosby scrapped Matt Niskanen of the Dallas Stars and Kovalchuk battled Green.

Plus, Iginla has fought Columbus Blue Jackets’ pest Derek Dorsett, and wanted a go at Detroit’s Brad Stuart Wednesday night, Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks fought David Perron of the St. Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan ­— who is a tough hombre — go with Tampa Bay’s Pavel Kubina.

“As a teammate, though, you never want to see those guys fight,” said Flames centre Craig Conroy. “You’re always worried they might get hurt, but sometimes it just happens — heat of the moment and tempers flare and stiff happens.”

Iginla and Doan fighting isn’t unique. In fact, the theory abounds Iginla is better when he’s mad.

But for players like Datsyuk, Kovalchuk or Crosby, you have to believe teammates and coaches can feel their hearts skip a beat.

Although Flames bench boss Brent Sutter recalls New York Islanders stars Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier fighting.

“It’s part of the game. You can get hurt taking a hit, giving a hit, going to the net, blocking a shot” Sutter said. “Do you like those guys doing that? You know what, they do it for the right reasons, for the most part. Top-end players are pretty tough guys too, but we all get so caught up in their skill levels. There’s other things in their games that they bring, too.”

FLAMING C-NOTES

Does anybody else have a tough time understanding that a NHL team, a veteran NHL team, has to do 10 minutes worth of drills to practice line changes as the Flames did Thursday morning? That’s something you learn at age 10, not after 10 years in the NHL ... Flames fans may have their beefs with Cory Sarich, mainly because of his salary and salary cap hit, but you won’t find more of a stand-up guy in the league. A few years ago, Sarich was man enough to talk during the game when his iron-man streak ended due to being a healthy scratch. Last weekend, he not only was waiting the questions for his own goal against Washington, but also took the blame for the too-many-men penalty when he wasn’t the only culprit on that exchange ... The decision to pair Jay Bouwmeester and Robyn Regehr not only gives the Flames two big bodies to face some of the large and skilled forwards on opposing teams, but appears to make Bouwmeester more willing to jump into the rush ... After watching Deryk Engelland’s couple of scraps this season — including a knockdown of Toronto’s Colton Orr — it’s too bad the Flames didn’t develop the big blueliner more than a couple of years instead of eternally looking for a scrapper. Engellend, who’s with Pittsburgh, was part of the black aces during the 2004 playoff run, and was likely a Brennan Evans mistake away from playing against the Detroit Red Wings in the second round. By the way, the two other blueliners who were part of the extra crew at that time were current Flames Adam Pardy and Mark Giordano.

HOCKEY TALKY

As entertaining as it is to follow Paul Bissonnette of the Phoenix Coyotes through his Twitter account, let’s hope there isn’t a move afoot to vote him an all-star. He agrees. “I’d be the first player in all star game history to be a healthy scratch lol.” Another great line: “Unless they change it from Carolina to Vegas this guy aint (sic) interested lol. Thanks though.” ... Despite what Philadelphia’s Daniel Briere says, the three-game suspension he was handed for that attempted cross-check on Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders is not out of line. What’s frustrating to see is how Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo, also a repeat offender, doesn’t receive a banishment for his hit on St. Louis defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo ... The fact Chicago’s Patrick Sharp has 10 goals and tied for the league lead prior to Thursday’s games isn’t the shock. His minus-10 rating is the stunner ... Glad to see the vast majority of games going into extra time have been decided in overtime rather than the shootout. If the NHL decides to tweak the OT format, here’s to hoping for eight minutes of four-on-four play and not a three-on-three element. This isn’t minor hockey week ... Of course Raffi Torres is the first former Edmonton Oiler to net a hat trick against his former team, as he did for the Vancouver Canucks. Were you thinking Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri or Paul Coffey had the skills to do that?

YOU DON’T SAY

“It was 5-0 and you’ve got Joe Thornton and you got Patrick Marleau and you’ve got (Dany) Heatley and you’ve got (Dan) Boyle and you’ve got (Joe) Pavelski on the ice. People don’t forget those things.” — Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/RandySportak


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