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Laraque Unloads on Fighting Proposals

Mar 10, 2009 – 8:45 PM
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Bruce Ciskie

Bruce Ciskie %BloggerTitle%

Well, it was bound to happen at some point. Why not a few hours after we started hearing about the ideas?

NHL general managers want to take some steps to curb the allegedly hideous amount of fighting taking place in hockey. The instigator rule and "choreographed" fights are the main targets. After hearing of these ideas, Montreal Canadiens enforcer Georges Laraque had his say. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the big man isn't pleased about much of this.

According to TSN's Darren Dreger, Laraque unloaded after reading about the ideas on TSN's website.
GMs will push for stiff punishment for those involved in what the NHL calls "staged fights" - fights that usually erupt immediately following face-offs.

It's that proposed penalty - a 10-minute misconduct - which really angers Laraque.

"Stupidest thing ever!" Laraque told TSN. "I think it's a joke. They might as well take fighting out of the NHL...fighting won't be safer; it will be eliminated because an added 10 minute misconduct is too much."

The referee will determine whether a fight qualifies as "staged", and Laraque insists this rule adjustment will eliminate jobs: "This will take the one-dimensional player out of the NHL because that's who they will say starts a staged fight."
In all honesty, I see Laraque's point. Frankly, I'm not sure adding another rule that officials get to look at subjectively is a good thing. Do you really want a grinder-type tough guy who happens to have some skill sitting for 15 minutes because he got in a fight that some random official seemed to think was "staged"?

To be fair to the NHL here, these recommendations are not automatically going to become the law of the ice. Laraque told Dreger that he will be sitting on a committee charged with discussing fighting and trying to promote a safer environment for it.

I'm in favor of being proactive regarding fighting. It's better to discuss possible rule changes before someone in the NHL is seriously injured, or worse. However, I'm not in favor of rules that somehow curtail the amount of fighting that is allowed to happen.

I feel players need to be allowed to police one another during games. It's an essential part of what is often a hard-hitting and violent sport. That doesn't make the current system perfect, but before we move to an equally imperfect system, the players need to have an opportunity to discuss the ideas with management.

For the record, NHL Players Association boss Paul Kelly believes that this particular movement must be collectively bargained.
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