Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Possible Fight Against Fights? Let's Hope Not

By now, most of you have seen the fight between Boston Bruins energy liner Shawn Thornton and Buffalo Sabres goon John Scott that took place that took place at the end of January.  It was an ugly scrap right off of a face-off that left Thornton with a concussion.  Standing six inches taller and outweighing Thornton by 50 pounds, Scott is a menace on the ice, and one such player that may make NHL lawmakers' ears stand up.

When I was watching the game, NESN play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards told viewers that Scott averages just over three minutes of ice time a game under head coach Lindy Ruff in Buffalo.  About half the team averages that much in man-advantage time alone.  Writing this article, I want to ask "how and why is this guy even allowed on the ice?"  It is not just his size -- Zdeno Chara stands an inch taller -- and its not just his weight -- Derek Boogaard weight just a few pounds over 270 in his day -- but it is the way that Scott plays the game that makes him such a danger.  Especially to other players.

Now, I know a good number of Sabres fans, and I want them to know that I'm not simply complaining about Scott putting a beat down on number 22.  I can live with that, honestly.  Its not very often that the guy who solely trains as a boxer during the offseason gets knocked down, but when he does, its usually a pretty ugly scuffle.

I'm stating my case against Scott because as an avid fan of the game, this sort of thing scares me.  No, not that someone-getting-their-face-bashed-in-thing, but the thought that a fight like this could be evidence for more rule changes implemented in the NHL.  Players know the risks when they play this game.  This isn't meant to sound like I'm yelling down from my pulpit with a decision as to whether these gladiators should live or die, but ask any borderline hockey fan what their favorite part of the game is.  If they don't say the fighting, they're lying.

Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning took on the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly.  Two major fights broke out that could be filed along with Scott's.  The first pit Zac Rinaldo against BJ Crombeen and the second was between veterans Vincent Lecavalier and Max Talbot.  In both knuckle dusters, late punches were thrown, the heaviest of which came from Rinaldo and landed on Crombeen's head as he was clearly down and out of the fight.  Crombeen got up in a complete daze, and it almost looked like he didn't even realize those last two had landed.

This season, the number of tripping, interference and hand pass calls have spiked because of new rule changes.  Thornton knew the risk of fighting a 6'8", 270 pounder, and he'll never really know better than not to.  Players who don't know better will eventually force the league to step up in an effort to protect players on some level.

When a guy's eyes roll back in his head, he drops like a sack of hammers and still gets clocked -- twice no less -- not only are the Lightning not going to forget that, but I don't think the NHL lawmakers will be skipping over that highlight, either.

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