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League's Elite Weigh In On Fighting

03/11/2009 5:19 PM

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NAPLES, Fla. - With fighting the hot button topic throughout the hockey world, broached the subject with a number of power brokers attending the 2009 NHL General Managers as possible.

Here is what some of them had to say:

"Hockey is inherently a dangerous game and fighting is part of hockey and there will be dangers associated with that. Having said that, if you can look at the game, keep its basic integrity and still make it safer for the players, that's something we should always endeavor to do. That's what the exercise is this week."

-- NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly

"There is not this pressure to fight I think that people might have felt 20 years ago when rarely would guys not fight. There were a few guys that said, 'I'm just not going to do it and they left them alone anyway.' Nowadays even the tougher guys don't have to fight. We all want to make them safer, but all I know is either a goal or a fight really gets people on their feet in the buildings. I think the real passionate fans still enjoy it, but nobody wants to see anybody get hurt."

-- Don Maloney, Phoenix Coyotes GM

"You'll always have some people that have strong feelings for and strong feelings against. I think it's just something we will come to accept. I don't think fighting should be permitted in any non-professional leagues. I don't think it should be permitted in junior leagues, senior leagues, in colleges. If you're in the American Hockey League, the ECHL or the NHL than you should have fighting, but it should be done in such a way where the players are protected. It shouldn't be a constant wrestling match. It shouldn't be ultimate fighting for 60 minutes. The fighting should evolve naturally from the emotion, the momentum, the adrenaline, the game itself. And, referees shouldn't let it get too carried away. They should learn there is an appropriate point, and it's not always easy to do, but step in and stop the fight before it becomes, No. 1, dangerous, or No. 2, difficult for most people to watch."

-- NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly

"What you guys would call a staged fight I might not call a staged fight. If Luke Schenn gets run with a minute and a half to go in the game and we don't have a chance to make that player pay a price, that might be the way the next game starts. It might not even be up to the coach. It might be someone on the ice who says 'Even though I normally start I'm going to go fight that guy.' Everyone says it's a staged fight as soon as the puck dropped, but it's not always that simple.

"Anything that is senseless or seems senseless we should look at eradicating so if there is a way to define it and police it we have to look at that. But people shouldn't be quick to assume that a fight that happens off a faceoff is a staged fight. Sometimes it's a carryover from a prior game. I had a player go after a guy when I was an assistant in Vancouver. He said the player ran him from behind in his first junior camp three years before that. It took him three years to get him back and he went right after him. Don't always assume it's the coaches who want that fight or the players are put out there on purpose. Sometimes they act independently on that stuff."

-- Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke

"Fighting has changed dramatically in each decade from the '50s onward. If you look at that old video that you guys show on, you often see a player swing his stick at the head of a player that preceded a fight back in the '50s and '60s. Then it evolved into more of an enforcer-type role in the '70s and '80s with brawling and multiple fights going on through the course of a game, fights that began in warmups. That clearly isn't the case anymore. It has evolved from that into less fighting, more European players, visors that have intervened. When I played in the early '80s half our team didn't wear a helmet, let alone a visor. There have been a series of changes that have occurred through equipment and other reasons, conditioning and size of the players, and as a progressive league we have to monitor them and make sure you're doing the best job possible. We have now entered another phase where people have to evaluate what is going on."

-- Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis

"(Takedowns), that is part of what we are talking about. The helmet in place, too. I think the whole discussion right now is about if you have a visor on and you fight, it's tough to be a fighter if you have that on. The people like Jarome Iginla will take them off because he thinks it's fair to take them off. Are we telling him you can't fight anymore or are we telling him you can fight with a visor on? That's a big part of the discussion."

-- Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray

"When I played in the '80s, if you won the first few fights of a playoff series there was a good chance you were going to win the playoff series. Now there are no fights in the playoffs. I've been in the League since '74 and there has never been a rule that says you can't fight in the playoffs. No rules have changed about fighting in the playoffs. It has just gone away. If you looked at the fights in the '80s, they increased in the playoffs."

-- NHL Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell

"We're always looking to do what is best for the game and to me, fighting is a part of the game, the fabric of the game. I think we have to continue to look at it and do the best that we can, in my opinion, without taking fighting out of the game. If there is a way we can protect the players or give the linesmen more guidance on when they get in and whether helmets would be on or off or whatever it is."

-- Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero

"You look at the game of hockey and its one of the ingredients of hockey. Do you love it for the scoring? You love it for all the ingredients. It's like my grandmother's butter tarts. I know they are the best in the world, just like I know this game is at an optimum level right now. I really think when you are looking at it, you want all those ingredients in the game. The general managers will talk and they'll probably focus on safety, so the players' concerns are there concerns there as well. They'll say, 'We know what is going on in the game and we know that fighting is a component of the game and is there a way we can make it safer?'

-- NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom