Flames defend enforcers

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

Eric Godard has seen it before.

In fact, he was once the guy left standing after a single punch crumpled his opponent while the Calgary Flames tough guy toiled for the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

"It wasn't good," recalled Godard as he discussed Wednesday night's incident in New York that saw Rangers tough guy Colton Orr knock out Philly's Todd Fedoruk with an overhand right.

"Same kind of thing, he just kind of folded to the ice."

Despite the dangers of fighting, Godard and other tough guys around the league aren't about to hesitate when duty calls.

"Everybody would be lying if they said they didn't know the risk. It doesn't make me think twice. I'm sure every guy like me understands that's one of the things that can happen," he said. "You just hope it doesn't, you don't want to see it happen to anybody."

One of the reasons fighters, though dwindling in numbers, are still around is to keep the pests in check.

Guys like Nashville's Jordin Tootoo, who last night served his second of a five-game suspension for knocking out Stephane Robidas with a sucker punch.

"You see how they already are with all the rules," said Godard, asked what the league would look like without enforcers. "Those are the guys who can get away with it, just run around and pretty much do what they want. It would just continue that way with no one to stop them."

Every time someone like Fedoruk is hurt in a scrap -- he had major surgery earlier this season after a punch from Derek Boogaard shattered the right side of his face -- there are outcries from those who want to see fighting banished.

But Jarome Iginla is among those who want the players to be able to police themselves more freely again. That means revisiting the instigator rule that has limited fighting since the lockout.

Iginla, initially one of the rule's proponents, has seen the respect level around the league drop.

"I didn't think it was going to. I think a lot of guys get away with a lot more running around and having no respect as far as people in vulnerable positions and things like that," said Iginla.

Wayne Primeau figures the suspension handed to Chris Simon for his recent swing of the stick and the handful for Tootoo after his sucker punch are examples of the league trying to get its message across.

"That's the only way they can try and get it under control with guys being suspended and losing money, and lots of it," Primeau said.


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