NHL's move to KO senseless scraps makes sense

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:30 AM ET

TORONTO -- So, Georges Laraque is upset about recommendations that include 10-minute misconducts for players who fight off the faceoff.

Boo hoo.

It's easy to understand the Montreal Canadiens enforcer fears his job will soon be obsolete, therefore his vocal opposition. But it's high time the NHL did something to curtail the unnecessary fighting in the game.

According to the Buck County Courier Times, the Philadelphia Flyers in their Broad Street Bullies days had 58 fighting majors in an entire season.

This season's Flyers have 62.

Yes, we know those disgraceful Flyers teams in the 1970s were more boorish -- just throw the name Dave Schultz into the search engine on YouTube and note how many scraps resulted in several players becoming involved or became an all-out brawl -- but it's wrong that fighting is increasing in frequency.

I'm not totally opposed to fighting in hockey at the NHL ranks. However, the number of staged bouts is an unsettling trend.

According to the NHL, 108 of the first 500 fights this season took place right after a faceoff.

It's just a guess, but I'd bet most of those were between combatants who'd just come off the bench, and not because they'd butted heads during action immediately before the whistle and decided to settle a score.

To reduce that number, the league is considering handing out misconducts to players who fight as soon as the puck is dropped.

Frankly, that's a good step.

It's probably foolish to believe fighting will be fully abolished. Even if it means an ejection, there will be plenty of tussles.

Throw in how some players are careless, if not downright dangerous, with the way they use their sticks, elbows and body without fear of repercussion, and it's possible the best course of action is to keep fighting in the game for some form of self-policing.

Better a fist than a stick hitting a face, even with the injuries you see.

However, the needless scraps between two players dropping their mitts in a misguided hope it justifies their role on the team must end.

Heavyweights can still get in their scraps if they truly need to -- all they have to do is skate around for 15 seconds before squaring off.

Yes, we know millions of fans love the fighting, perhaps even more than the game itself, but maybe half of those meaningless tilts won't take place.

The game would be better for it.

Flaming c-notes

For all we know, Flames LW Michael Cammalleri will re-sign in Calgary and not test the waters of unrestricted free agency. Still, it can't help but seem tonight's game for the Richmond Hill, Ont., product in Toronto against the Maple Leafs is something of an job interview before the brass of his hometown squad ... When told the Flames team bus would receive a police escort from their hotel to the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., left-winger Eric Nystrom replied: "Why, so we don't get car-jacked?" The real reason is how difficult it can be for vehicles to work through the heavy traffic in the area, but the area around the arena is not one you'd feel comfortable walking through after dark. In fact, the local police set up a mobile command unit outside the arena during games ... After being hit in the throat by a puck in the Detroit game, Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff quipped: "I didn't lose my voice or anything, so it's alright." ... The Flames don't want to fall to fourth or fifth place in the Western Conference standings, so they don't want to hear this, but wouldn't you love to be in the building when the Chicago Blackhawks play their first home playoff game? The crowd at the United Center is a sight and sound to behold, especially during the national anthem, which has moved reporters to tears.

Hockey talky

Penalty kills at Red Wings games in Detroit are promoted by the U.S. Border Patrol. That's right, when the Wings receive a penalty, the PA will say, "This penalty kill brought to you by the U.S. Border Patrol," which begs the question, why? Is it to keep Canadians out of the country and stealing all the jobs in Detroit? ... Steven Stamkos, the first-overall draft choice in the 2008 draft, has now collected 11 goals and 21 points in his last 34 games. It's an impressive turnaround after he started with only three goals and 12 points in his first 31 outings ... Even the most ardent Flames fan who despises the Oilers has to be happy that Edmonton captain Ethan Moreau was back in action Thursday after receiving a nasty scare when he was hit in the eye with a stick. Moreau suffered a scratched cornea and bleeding behind the eye, but it could have been much worse. He's now playing with a visor on, but inexplicably, said he hasn't decided whether he'll wear it beyond the rest of this season ... The seventh-, eighth- and ninth-place teams in the Western Conference -- Edmonton, Dallas and Minnesota -- each have only three wins in their last 10 games. Sure makes you wonder whether any of those teams actually want to be in the playoffs. Watch out for the St. Louis Blues, who've won seven of 10 and are only two points back of the Oilers and Stars.

You don't say

"He doesn't have the greatest body. It's like the 'before' picture in the Jenny Craig commercials."

-- Vancouver C Ryan Kesler taking his pot shots at teammate Darcy Hordichuk, who posed shirtless for a photo with his newborn son.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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