Hodgemail: Should the NHL try to eliminate 'staged' fights?

TSN.ca Staff
2/8/2012 10:56:56 PM
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It took just mere seconds for the tone to be set in Tuesday's game between the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.

It wasn't an early goal that did it.

Nor was it a great scoring chance.

And it wasn't a highlight reel save or a big hit.

It was a fight - with New Jersey's Eric Boulton and Cam Janssen taking on New York's Brandon Prust and Mike Rupp - right off the opening draw with just two seconds burned off the clock.

"I thought it was unbelievable," said Devils forward David Clarkson, who scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 Devils victory.

"Those two guys aren't fighting for fun. Boults and Janny did unbelievable jobs. They got our bench going right away. I think that's one of the hardest jobs in hockey. People always say fighting this and fighting that, but that showed it right there. Those guys weren't fighting for each other or for themselves. They were fighting for the team and to set a tone."

And it wasn't the first time this happened between both clubs this season. The first time they played on Dec. 20, the Rangers' Mike Rupp and Cam Janssen fought just three seconds into the game, followed by the Devils' David Clarkson and Brandon Dubinsky duking it out less than two minutes later.

They're 'staged' fights - and they either accomplish nothing (but entertainment value) or set the tone or shift the momentum for a game.

Dave's question to you was: Should the NHL try to eliminate 'staged' fights, and if so, how?

And here are the answers that Dave liked best:

Anthony asks: "What constitutes a staged fight? It's too grey an area - like the instigator rule."

David says: "I don't necessarily like staged fights, but the Devils sent a clear message to the Rangers last night."

Jamie writes: "A staged fight brings action when the game is a bit dry." (It took two seconds for last night's game to get dry?)

This from Tom: "Staged fights just seconds into a game or at the drop of the puck should bring three-game suspensions so the NHL doesn't become Slapshot."

Al says: "I would rather watch a staged fight between two willing combatants than watch slew-footing or gutless diving."

And Stephen says of staged fights: "The fans love them, the players love them, and the coaches promote them - what's the issue?"

And Dave's Reply to All:

Indeed, many of our respondents seemed to enjoy the action at the two-second mark in New York last night, which might be an argument for starting every game like that.

Or you could say, as some do, that "orchestrated" fights give all other fights a bad name.

Yes, if I were inclined to do so, I would argue for fights as "part of the game" by trying to get rid of fights that aren't.

How to do that?

Well, apparently the NHL can't get past the Players' Association, and the coaches are in favour of the choreography or they'd fill out their lineup sheets differently.

Still, dealing with the coaches can be done, as in the $10,000 fines they get if their player instigates a late-game fight. No reason the same couldn't apply to "staged" fights.

But let's use more imagination, and be democratic. Nevermind the whistle at the two-second mark in New York last night - keep the game going and watch what you want.

Hodgemail - Staged fights (Photo: Getty Images)


(Photo: Getty Images)
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