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McKenzie: NHL GMs to discuss aspects of fighting

Bob McKenzie
1/20/2009 7:03:12 PM
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In the wake of the Don Sanderson tragedy, the National Hockey League says it is going to discuss "all aspects" of fighting when general managers meet in Florida this March.

But the real question is how much of an appetite is there for anything approximating real change when it comes to rules and attitudes governing fighting in the NHL?

TSN conducted a flash survey of NHL general managers to get a sense where they currently stand on the issue - and it's clear that change will not come easily.

Asked if they favoured "stiffer punishment" for any player who fights, only two of the 18 executives who responded to the survey said yes. And of those two, neither said they would be in favor of automatically ejecting any player who fights in an NHL game.

The 16 general managers who voted against "stiffer punishment" were then asked if they were in favor of abolishing the instigator rule - that is, change the rules to possibly promote more fighting - and five of the 16 said yes to that. That wouldn't be enough to affect change, but it's interesting that five general managers favour getting rid of the instigator and only two voted in favor of stronger anti-fighting measures.

The issue that is likely to have the most meaningful dialogue concerns the Ontario Hockey League's recent helmet rule, where players who voluntarily remove their helmets for a fight get ejected and suspended and linesmen are instructed to stop any fight where a player's helmet accidentally comes off.

Eleven of the 18 general managers said they were opposed to the OHL helmet rule, but the fact that seven voted in favor of it suggests there is perhaps at least some basis for discussion on that.


Bob McKenzie


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