The union got what it wanted, and the meetings also got back to the topic of fighting. While it's kind of disturbing that there is even talk of banning fighting in the NHL, you'll be happy to know that NHL general managers think they have a better idea, and it doesn't even require a new rule.
Instead, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie, the general managers want the instigator rule enforced more often than it is right now.
(Insert "anything would be more often than what we have now" joke here.)
This season, the two-minute minor for instigating has been called in only five to six per cent of all fights. That number should have been significantly higher because there has been a significant increase in fights where one player was using a fight to avenge a clean hit on one of his teammates.It's really nothing but a theory, frankly. While you might not see as much fighting, you may see more thuggery. Goon-type players will be more inclined to take liberties with opposing skill players when all they have to do is turn down a fight and move on. Yes, there are players who will throw a borderline hit and immediately face the music. There will be others who throw borderline or dirty hits and immediately turtle, knowing they don't have to fight if they really don't want to.
NHL statistics indicated that 20 per cent of all fights this season in the NHL started because of a clean hit. The ensuing fight is the very definition of "instigating," yet the instigators was rarely invoked.
McKenzie also takes issue with the high number of "staged" fights, or fights that take place right after a faceoff.
A further decrease could potentially be achieved with the other recommendation from the GMs - punishing staged fights, or those immediately after the puck is dropped at a faceoff, with an additional 10-minute misconduct. More than 21 per cent - or about one of five - of all NHL fights this season were ''staged'' off a faceoff.I don't know what will come of this idea, but I don't see any real harm in pre-planned fights. And where do you draw the line? If a guy throws a dirty hit on some team's skill player towards the end of a game, and doesn't get to "face the music" until the next meeting between those teams, does that count as a "staged" fight?
It would be up to the referee to determine what qualifies as a ''staged'' fight, but if the NHL were truly serious about this issue, it would have gone to a game misconduct as opposed to a 10-minute misconduct. For NHL heavyweights who predominantly fight and do little or nothing else, the 10-minute misconduct may not be much of a deterrent. And if two enforcers wish to "stage" a fight, they need only do a better job of making it look as though the fight is part of the ongoing play.
Seems like the kind of judgment call we don't need NHL officials being asked to make.
Plus, if you were really serious about eliminating fighting in the NHL (by the way, I think this is a horrible concept, and fighting should be left alone), why not adopt the "automatic five minutes plus game disqualification" rule that is used in college hockey? I've probably seen over 200 games the last four seasons, and I don't remember the last time I saw a full, glove-dropping fight.
Of course, the answer is easy: No one in their right mind really wants to eliminate fighting from the NHL.