Karlo Berkovich, a veteran sportswriter at the Waterloo Region Record, took the starch out of of some of the game's leaders, notably NHLPA boss Paul Kelly and OHL commissioner David Branch, whose league has banned players taking off their helmets before fighting.
"...you could also read (no doffing your helmet rule) another way -- that Branch is perfectly fine with fighting; he just wants fighters to keep their helmets on, not only to avoid injury but, c'mon, so one day, when a (Don) Sanderson incident happens in the OHL, the league can avoid a lawsuit.One big sticking point seems to be that Branch and Kelly are fine with half measures; in the former's case, anything to make this go away at least until next season. They're both politicians, versed in the art of the possible, and they have to manage the egos of some of those short-tempered puckheads, so there is some understanding.
"As for (the NHLPA's Paul) Kelly, he's hilarious. It's imperative that players must be protected from hits to the head. He's talking cheap shots, elbows to the chops (which the sainted best leader in the history of the known cosmos, Mark Messier, is always praised for). Those are no-no's. Hits to the head via a punch in a fight? Hey, by all means, boys, feel free. And take off your helmets while you're at it.
"(Kitchener Rangers player Mike Mascioli's) quote about not being happy about it because jobs will be lost is also unintentionally a scream. How about he look at it another way: learn to play properly and you'll have no worries.
"Not that any of this will convince any of the lunatics who continue to run the asylum, though. So to come full circle, let 'em. It could be -- as we've now, unfortunately, experienced -- their funeral."
Journalistically, there is some hypocrisy. It's one thing to have a good argument and not to attack people rather than their points, but it's better if you learn it, live it, love it. It is tough not to think that some of the same commentators who are coming on all serious now were the same ones who would be chuckling away in the press box when a scrap broke out on the ice.
Personally, I'm the exact opposite. When a fight starts, the hands stay folded in my lap, but there is awareness that until the rules change or the hockey mentality changes, a team which doesn't have an enforcer s vulnerable to opponents taking liberties with their players. On Dec. 12, the day Don Sanderson was critically injured, that was a topic of discussion on Kinger's show, Offsides, with respect to the Kingston Frontenacs. Their players were being run all over the ice because management, in its wisdom, had traded away tough guy Peter Stevens. Thankfully, no Kingston player has been seriously injured, either from an overly aggressive check or from fighting.
Once again, the changes that would work to eliminate fighting from hockey go way beyond rule changes and some editorializing journalists. Good on Berkovich for telling it like it is.
(Hockey Night in Canada clip captured by MisterDB from Fronts Talk. whose YouTube channel is a veritable treasure trove of Kinger's between-periods interviews on TV Cogeco in Kingston.)
Hockey fighting: The lunatics run the asylym, so let 'em (Karlo Berkovich, Waterloo Region Record)