Fighting the good fight

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Peter Laviolette doesn't want to give anybody a fighting chance.

So the Carolina Hurricanes coach has essentially banned his players from fighting. No, not all bouts, but he doesn't see the need for anybody to drop the gloves for no good reason.

"I have a policy I call a 'common sense' rule that says don't get into useless fights," said Laviolette yesterday. "Are we allowed to stick up for our teammates? Yeah. Am I against the fighting rule in the NHL? No.

"But, in the same sense, there are times and points in the game where somebody will come off the bench and try to change the makeup of the game. Our team is not built like that. We don't have that type of personnel on our team. It doesn't play to our strengths, so why would we, as a team, look for that?

"What I tell the players is, 'Use your common sense.' We are at a league-leading man-games lost because of injuries with over 90 games. We can't afford to lose somebody in a useless altercation."

Laviolette's rules were clearly evident the first time winger Erik Cole faced Pittsburgh defenceman Brooks Orpik Nov. 11 in Carolina.

It was Orpik's hit from behind which forced Cole to miss part of last season and the playoffs with a neck injury. Before the game against the Pens, there was plenty of talk about retribution and Cole himself wanted to deliver a message to Orpik.

"(Laviolette) put some pretty strict restrictions on what he wanted to have done with the game and how he wanted it played," said Cole. "I can't say I agree with how he handled the whole situation ... but what are you going to do, he's the coach. It was a frustrating night in that sense, but it was good to get out of the way."

Laviolette maintained this is not a full fighting ban.

"There are times on the ice when players have to use their judgment," he said. "They're allowed to use that judgment. It's the useless stuff we have to stay away from because we're not built that way."

FEELING GOOD: Speaking of Cole, he's been one of Carolina's best players in the first month of the season with eight goals and 15 assists in 25 games going into last night. He's also been a physical presence and is among the top five in the NHL in hits. "It's about getting back to being the same player I was," said Cole, who suited up for his 300th NHL game against the Senators. "It's not just about coming back and playing. I wanted to come back and be able to play the same style ... I'm just thankful that it wasn't more serious and that I am here on a daily basis with the guys. Within the last month, I have come around to where I was last year." He hasn't talked to Orpik since the incident. "I don't want to. Some day, I will," said Cole.

AROUND THE BOARDS: Ottawa D Anton Volchenkov missed his second straight game with a "lower body injury." Volchenkov, who's played valuable minutes lately, was the last one off the ice after the morning skate, but still isn't feeling ready to go. "If he's not 100% or close to it, then we're not going to put him in the lineup. We're just going to tell him to wait another game," said Ottawa coach Bryan Murray ... Sens owner Eugene Melnyk was at the RBC Center last night. He was on his way back to Barbados and stopped in to see the team play ... Ottawa tough guy Brian McGrattan and the Senators took a shot from the Toronto Globe and Mail in an editorial page piece Monday titled "Twilight of the enforcer." The newspaper claimed the days of the fighter have passed and McGrattan's presence wasn't helping the Senators. "When Brian McGrattan sits glumly at the end of the bench all night, waiting for the call that does not come, he is hurting the team ... The enforcer is on life support, but the game is alive again. Don't pity the enforcer; rejoice the game," the newspaper wrote.


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