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Dreger: OHL targetting fighters; NHL targetting embellishers

Darren Dreger
9/19/2012 8:59:20 PM
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More than 90 per cent of Ontario Hockey League players fight fewer than 10 times per season.

That said, the sanctions adopted by the OHL that include suspensions and fines for the serial scrapper are clearly targeting the one-dimensional player.

But some might be surprised to learn that 31 OHL players recorded 10 or more fighting majors last season, compared to the 23 National Hockey League players who also dropped the gloves no fewer than 10 times.

Fighting has been on the NHL's radar for many years and over time, there have been countless discussions on its merit - or if the league needs to do more to police it.

Now the number of fights per season in the NHL is declining, so there's less of an outcry for banning what some believe is an important part of the game. However, the NHL - as well as the Western Hockey League and QMJHL - will pay close attention to the latest OHL changes and may adopt their own initiatives in the near future.

Fighting in the NHL seems to be less contentious than diving or other dishonourable acts designed to draw penalties.

And when the NHL lockout ends, players who have a tendency to embellish may be in for a surprise.

Players, coaches, managers and officials who participated in league meetings in August agreed embellishment has once again become an issue.

Vancouver Canucks centre Ryan Kesler has been identified as an offender. While Kesler plays the game hard, he has been known to exaggerate contact to gain an advantage.

Chicago's Dan Carcillo has been caught on video on more than one occasion during his career trying to sell a penalty. Among his more noteworthy attempts was in a 2010 playoff game with the Philadelphia Flyers against the New Jersey Devils, where Carcillo pretended to have been struck in the face with a stick.

Superstars such as Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin have also drawn criticism for attempting to mislead referees, as he did in the playoffs last spring resulting in a penalty against Philadelphia's Matt Carle.

Everything from posting pictures of each culprit in every NHL dressing room to re-instituting a fine system, or simply tacking on an additional two-minute penalty to offset the original call is being discussed by hockey operations and will at some point be presented to all NHL general managers for further discussion.

Darren Dreger

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