SUN Hockey Pool

Young Flames fighting the good fight

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

DENVER -- Sporting fresh jersey burns on his face from a fight in Calgary a couple of nights earlier, Colorado Avalanche veteran Ian Laperriere admits there seems to be a lack of honour among many NHL tough guys these days.

Pointing to a couple of spirited young Flames punchers, Brandon Prust and Eric Nystrom -- who happens to be the one who marked up Laperriere's face -- as an example of how things should be done, Laperriere has hope the next generation of middleweights can help bring back the unwritten code that once guided them.

"There's a way to be honourable, and a way to fight and a time to fight," said Laperriere before tangling with the Flames in the second billing of a home-and-home series. "Those guys are young guys, but they've figured it out. They know when and where."

And who.

Just as important as the timing of a spark intended to ignite a team is the guy they choose to take on.

"What drives me nuts in today's game, you've got guys who are 220 or 230 and will go after guys that are 195 pounds and are a lot shorter," said the 191-lb. Avs winger.

"Often, you'll see guys that'll go way down in weight class because they know they're going to win and embarrass the guy."

Taking offence to a challenge from the 230-lb. Zack Stortini last month, Laperriere was even more insulted when the Edmonton Oilers goon threw punches after they hit the ice.

"When guys are down, you see a lot more guys cheap punching," said Laperriere.

"Guys are down, the fight is pretty much over, the referees are coming in, and guys just keep giving those two or three extra shots that can really hurt a guy. When you're down, you're pretty weak. You can't really protect yourself."

He's not sure why things like that are taking place more frequently than he's used to.

"I don't know where it's coming from. It's just a lack of respect. I don't know why."

Some guys have much to learn.

Prust and Nystrom have a good start.

"I don't know Prust much. I've seen him fight and I know what he's all about. Nystrom, I'm sure his dad showed him the right way to do what he does out there," said the 34-year-old. "It's something older guys teach you. It's just something you learn over the years by experience."

Prust learned the ropes in junior playing with the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights.

"You don't want to fight when your team's up. You don't want to give the other team momentum," said the 24-year-old Prust.

"I remember in junior I did it once and our captain (Danny Bois) kind of got mad at me. At that time I was fighting just to fight, so that was kind of an eye-opener for me."


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