This week's knockout punch delivered by Toronto Maple Leaf Fraser McLaren on Ottawa Senator Dave Dziurzynski has once again opened the debate on whether fighting should be allowed in hockey. A lot of hockey fans would agree that there is not too much wrong with the occasional scrap, but these staged fights like we saw in Toronto this past Wednesday are a joke.
Why are they a part of hockey?
Some would say to set the tone or a message to the other team. Some would say it helps pump up the team. Here we are in the greatest league on the planet and playing NHL hockey, and we say that it helps pump up the players?
Is the fact that these players are able to be an NHL player not enough to get them excited?
When two players drop the gloves because of what may have happened during the game, most do not have a problem when the two engage to settle the issue. When role players, who are in a lot of cases not talented enough to play the game, engage in a staged fight, in my opinion it degrades our great game.
Would you see a staged fight in the Olympics?
Do you think we will see a staged fight in the championship game of the upcoming RBC Cup in Summerside?
One has to look no farther than last Sunday's NHL game between Chicago and Detroit to see how the game is meant to, and should be played. It was a very exciting and great hockey game that had only six minor penalties, including two delay of game, two interference, one holding and one hooking penalty.
There was no roughing, slashing, high sticking or fighting, and most would agree that it was one of the best games they have seen this year. A team’s coach has the control of who plays and how they play the game. These staged fights fall right at the feet of the coach.
When teams lack skill, coaches sometimes will resort to win by intimidation. Sometimes a team will put out their tough guy in a game against Detroit, and Wings coach Mike Babcock will counter with his most skilled line, which kind of makes the other coach look a little bit silly.
Detroit rarely has a tough guy in their lineup, but do have players that are skilled and can look after themselves and teammates when needed. The last time I looked the Red Wings were the most successful hockey team on the planet over the last 15 years.
Chicago has adopted the same style of team and barring a major collapse, or being hit by injury, they are the clear-cut favourites to win the this year's Stanley Cup. At any rate, these staged fights are a black mark on the game, and should be eliminated.
I am not against fighting in hockey, and the issue could be debated until the cows come home. I do not wish to waste any more space on the subject.
Despite winning three games in less than 72 hours last weekend, the Summerside Western Capitals actually dropped to fourth place in the final rankings in the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
A 20-game winning streak to end the season was enough to put the Dauphin Kings from the Manitoba Junior Hockey League into that third spot in the final rankings.
The Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, with a very impressive 53-4-1-2 record, and the Minnesota Wilderness of the Superior International Junior Hockey League, with a equally-impressive 51-3-0-2 mark, are the top two teams.
Dauphin had a 47-11-2 record while the Caps finished with a 43-7-0-2 record.
One would think that, barring an upset, at least a couple of these teams will be in Summerside for the RBC Cup in May.
No one ever remembers where a team finishes in the rankings, but they do remember the team that wins their last game.
The Metro Shipbuilders of the MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) finally had their long season come to an end this week. They won only four of the 52 games played.
The Shipbuilders, who are based out of the spacious Dartmouth Sportsplex, usually play in front of less than 200 fans. It must have been a long season, and one would be surprised if this team is in Dartmouth next season.
I do not remember a team having that poor of a record except for a local bantam team. Back a couple of years ago, Summerside had a team that played 62 games, and lost all 62. As hard as it is to believe, they did not win a game all year.
Big game tonight
There is a big game in the Island Junior Hockey League at the Evangeline Recreation Centre tonight (Saturday).
The Arsenault’s Fish Mart Western Red Wings and the Sherwood A&S Scrap Metal Falcons tangle in Game 4 of the best-of-seven semifinal series. The Red Wings hold a 2-1 series lead.
Neither team has yet to win on home ice, but the Wings will be looking to change that trend. They won the first two games in Sherwood, but having to win a Game 5 or Game 7 back at the Cody Banks Arena may be too much to expect.
That can be avoided by taking care of business on home ice, which is what the Wings need to do to win this series.
The other semifinal goes to Game 3 in Kensington on Sunday night. The Montague Maniacs took a 1-0 lead over the Kensington Moase Plumbing and Heating Vipers into Game 2 in Montague on Friday night.
Of course hockey fans are keeping their fingers crossed that Kensington and Western will renew their great rivalry in a league final.
Tim Hortons Brier
The Tim Hortons Brier wraps up in Edmonton on Sunday night, and local fans are closely following the fortunes of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Brad Gushue rink. Islanders Adam Casey and Brett Gallant are members of the Gushue rink, and it would be great to see them win the Brier.
The playoffs start today, and Team Gushue is in the mix. In the end, it looks like defending champion Glenn Howard will win his third Brier as a skip, or at least they will be one tough team to beat.
It was 25 years ago today on March 9, 1987, that the UPEI Panthers beat the St. Francis Xavier X-Men 4-2 at the Charlottetown Forum to capture the AUAA men’s hockey championship.
It was the Panthers’ second title in the last three years, and sent the majority of the 2,600 fans jammed into the Forum home happy.
Randy Muttart, Steve Fulton, Ron Hennessey and Craig Jenkins had the Panther goals.
Fulton and Kevin Skilliter were named to the first all-star team on defence, Ron Carragher was named the second-team centre.
The win gave the Panthers a berth in the CIAU championship in Edmonton, Alta.
Have a great week!
Joe MacIntyre is a Summerside resident. His column appears every Saturday. Comments and suggestions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.