GMs instigate a fighting debate

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

The subject of fighting was all the rage yesterday at Scotiabank Place.

While there's been plenty of criticism of the decision by general managers to enforce the instigator penalty for players seeking revenge for a clean hit and the suggestion of a crackdown on staged fighting with a 10-minute misconduct, nobody is sure if the measures are going to go far enough.

There's a school of thought if the instigator is enforced as GMs have asked, there's nothing to stop players from doing whatever they want because it's going to be difficult to exact revenge by fighting.

"As a player, you want to make sure players are accountable for their actions. You can't run around and cheap shot a couple people and then not drop your gloves. I know a couple players in the league whose games might change if they had to stand up for themselves and fight," said Tampa winger Ryan Malone.

"Personally, you'd rather have no instigator and make people accountable for the way they play. Now they're trying to enforce it more, you might see more of those cheap shots or those instances where players are in a vulnerable position getting hurt, instead of, if I see someone's back, I know if I run this guy from behind, I'm going to have to pay the consequences later on. Usually, too many people don't want to pay the consequences. It will make you think twice for sure if there's no instigator."

Senators winger Chris Neil said there is no room for staged fighting.

"I don't really think that an extra 10-minute penalty is really going to do much to keep people from fighting," said Neil. "If you are in a staged fight, then you are fighting for yourself, and that's going to help those guys because they want more penalty minutes.

"I heard Marty McSorley say that sometimes you have a carryover from the game before and you have two guys come out and fight on the first shift. It can mellow the whole game out. It might prevent some other problems happening in the game. I had a different perspective when I heard (McSorley) speak about it."

Naughty, naughty, naughty ...

The decision from the jury is in: Senators C Jason Spezza is guilty as charged by Toronto coach Ron Wilson.The NHL's Kris King informed the club Spezza's stick was shaved too thin and was illegal, which means referee Dan O'Halloran made the right call Monday. It also means Spezza is going to have shave his sticks a little less at the toe before games. "I really don't have to change that much. If anything, I probably won't shave them very much at all. It's more of a novelty for me. I just shave them until they feel right," said Spezza. "Maybe it will give me more time to stretch or spend more time at home ... I don't know." Ironically, a game-used stick of Spezza's was given to a fan after the game. No word on whether it was legal.

Off the glass

Neil could be ready to return tonight against the Bruins in Beantown. He's nearly recovered from the lacerated calf he suffered on Feb. 7 vs. Buffalo. "There's a possibility (tonight), but Saturday for sure," said Neil. "I do feel pretty good. They wanted to get me in with the team a little bit and practising. An extra day of practice does make a difference, believe it or not. I just want to get my timing and passing down, so I'm not so rusty my first game back." Neil has missed 15 games ... Tampa C Vinny Lecavalier noted before the puck was dropped last night "we've got 16 games left." He's not the only one counting. Does a March game between Ottawa (No. 12) and Tampa (No. 14) make anybody else think of golf? Just asking.

Things that make you go Hmmm ...

Now that Tampa RW Gary Roberts officially retired Monday, are the rumours about him coming to Ottawa at the deadline going to stop? "I don't think so," quipped Spezza, "we'll probably hear at next year's trade deadline that we're trying to bring him out retirement." ... Tough season for Tampa coach Rick Tocchet. The club has used 47 players and rookie D Richard Petiot, who made his season debut vs. Ottawa, was the 19th blueliner to suit up this year. "I've never seen that before in my career," said Tocchet ... The Senators tried to make a blockbuster at the AHL trade deadline, but came up short. They did lend D Geoff Waugh to Portland for C Aaron Slattengren. Sportsnet and TSN didn't break that one.

The morning skate

Nice to see Tampa D Cory Murphy, an Ottawa native, open the scoring in the first ... The Bolts have been pleased with the play of rookie C Steven Stamkos. He's been playing a lot lately with RW Martin St. Louis. "He's going to be a helluva hockey player. He's got a great shot and you can tell he's starting to get it now," said Tocchet.

Final buzzer

Singers/girlfriends Hillary Duff (Mike Comrie) and Carrie Underwood (Mike Fisher) sat together in a box on the first level. Gee, somebody should have coaxed one to sing the national anthems. All that talent shouldn't go to waste.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA


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