Staged fights can go -- Wilson

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:55 AM ET

Leave the staged fights to Hollywood actors and professional wrestlers.

Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson yesterday gave his full support to that theory yesterday and the push by the NHL's general managers to rid the league of staged fights -- that is, when two players drop the gloves right after a faceoff.

"I think what the general managers are talking about is perfect -- eliminate the staged fights, the ones where two tough guys come on the ice, they tell each other they're going to fight, they tap each other and then the drop the gloves," Wilson said. "It's got nothing to do with the game. That has to be eliminated.

"I hit a guy, but we're not tough guys, we're skill guys, and the next faceoff, two other guys, the hitmen from each team, fight each other. What does that prove?" Wilson continued. "It proves nothing and that's the part of the game that we have to clean up. And I think we will."

Leafs tough guy Jamal Mayers, who also has a skill component to his game, also believes it is time to rid the NHL of staged fights. But the Toronto native added that it is easier said than done.

PLAYERS WILL WAIT

"The reality is, players will just wait an extra 10-15 seconds and then engage in a fight. And sometimes there's a carry-over from other games. And at beginning of the game it's kind of: 'Let's send them a message,' " said Mayers, adding that he is all for the NHLPA proposal to get rid of head shots in the NHL.

Both Wilson and Leafs GM Brian Burke believe that fighting always will have a part of NHL hockey. In fact, Wilson pointed to Lee Stempniak's third-period brawl with New York Islanders defenceman Bruno Gervais in Toronto's 3-2 win on Tuesday as an example of how a fight can help turn a game around.

"Lee Stempniak getting involved, stepping a little bit out of character for him, getting involved in a fight, kind of lit a fire under our team and we played better after that," Wilson said. "In a situation like that, where Lee got hit face-first into the boards from behind, they turned around, they looked at each other, it was a man-to-man challenge ... I don't see anything wrong with that.

"I think at the end of the day we just have to decide the severity of the penalty for fighting," Wilson said. "The poor young fellow who died in the fight (Ontario senior player Don Sanderson) was in a league that bans fighting. So we could ban fighting and there is still going to be fights because it's an emotional game. You're not going to take it out. It's how you manage the penalties."

STEVE.BUFFERY@SUNMEDIA.CA


Videos

Photos