There shouldn’t be fighting in prospect games



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The scene: After a hard-fought prospects game at one of the many preseason tournaments sprouting up across North America, a progressive coach brings a player into his office to discuss the fighting major the player earned the night before in the second period of a 5-1 hockey game.

“Oh, hey, it’s good to see you showed up. I wanted to call you in here with regards to that fight that you had last night in our prospects game.

Listen, I don’t know who told you that the best way to get noticed during these tournaments is to stand up for either yourself or your teammates, but it isn’t. Our scouting staff have spend hours watching you and, while we may not have drafted you this past spring, it by no means indicates that we don’t know much about you. 

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We invited you to this camp so that we could test you out in a few game situations under our control and see how you handle them. One of those isn’t fighting, trust me. You don’t have to prove anything. We know how hard you work already.

Look, you’re a good hockey player. I’ve seen some of your game tape from junior hockey, and there’s a lot of good things that you can do, and trust me, we’re looking. We know how hard you’ve worked to make it this far in hockey, and you definitely don’t need to prove it to us. Particularly by doing something as dangerous as fighting; I was nearly sick to my stomach last night watching you scrap and I’m relieved that you and the guy on the other team you fought came out unscatched, but let’s not toy with fate.

I don’t want to connect the dangers of fighting to some of the tragic deaths we’ve seen over the past two summers because in all those terrible cases there were outside influences factor in, but that doesn’t mean that this organization takes them lightly. Hockey is already a fast, dangerous, violent game that can hurt you in many different ways and we don’t want to add to that list on dangerous, violent things in this sport, particularly with something that this organization doesn’t feel has a tangible impact on the game.

You may think that you’re turning the momentum in the game, but, trust me, we’ve done a bit of research. For all the examples you can find of a player overcoming an opponent in fisticuffs and motivating his team to score a goal and come back to win the hockey game, we can find just as many examples of times it didn’t work.

In the end, while I appreciate that you want to show how hard you’ve worked, I’d feel a lot better if you showed me in other ways. Win puck battles, create scoring chances, or even do something as simple as set up an offensive zone faceoff—really, our coaching staff and video analysts are looking at all these things when we evaluate our players. We want to see you do things on the ice that we think can help us win the hockey game, and we don’t want to see you taking part in a sideshow when we don’t know the full effects of the toll fighting can take on a player, particularly one so young as yourself.”

  • @mayorpoop

    At no point did i to tell Cam “how to write”,
    and if thats how it came across, I’m sorry as i am in no way qualified to tell a writer how to write. My intention was to point out that certain feelings and opinions may not be shared in regards to fighting by people who have and haven’t played.

    I also probably came across overly harsh as this is the second article from Cam that feels more like an attempt to stir up hits than really prove a point. Hey we are all just people with our own opinions and we all have the right to voice them.

    I guess i just prefer substance to fiction.

    • “opinions may not be shared in regards to fighting by people who have and haven’t played. ”

      on this i agree. everyone see’s things through different colored glasses based on experiences.

      good journalism to me is part educational and part thought provoking. cam can say what he wants and i will still use my brain to decipher it how i choose.

      on a side note: if RNH doesn’t make the roster this year i may really really really dislike mr dithers more….arch? arch? you agree right?

      • You know it.

        Nothing kills me more than the argument that RNH should go back to juniour. It was argued before he took one shift in Oiler silks. By the time training camp is over we’ll have RNH reapeating Kindergarten.

        • lol.

          i have always wondered if he wasn’t the BPA, you know the guy that is good enough to play right now, then why did we draft him?

          ~let’s make a statement and send the #1 pick back to juniors so he can play at the WJHC~

          • Because you want the guy that will be the best NHLer not the one that can play in the NHL right away. They aren’t necessarily the same nor are they mutually exclusive.

            The smart people that want RNH back in junior probably want him there for the same reason they wanted Hall back there last year: the salary cap. But that’s a discussion for an entire other post.

          • as far as RNH goes i will reserve my judgement till he plays with big boys. i like to bring this into conversation because 1)Arch and finally agree on something , and 2) there are so many people foolishly hell bent on, without reservation sending him to juniors. time will tell.

  • Although I appreciate Cam’s writing here and his attempt to make this “progressive” hockey coach sound quite smart, if this conversation ever took place at all in real life, it would be something as simple as this:

    “Don’t effin’ fight, OK? It ain’t worth your trouble and we’re not going to give you a job just because you can fight, OK.”

    And that’s it. If you saw last year’s Oil Change series, you saw that the conversationsb between coaches and players tend to be short and they’ll be even shorter between coaches and prospects.

    As for removing fighting from pre-season rookie tournaments, dream on. Heck, the rookie tournaments are the one place where I’d expect to see more fighting not less.

    Think about it: If you’re a guy who can fight a lot and play a little and they’re dangling a shot at a $65,000US AHL or ECHL contract at you when you don’t have anything else lined up, of course you’ll fight for it.

    And if that tryout could lead to one of those half-million-dollar contracts … well, you’ll fight some more.

  • Craig1981

    Adam huxley came to camp a few years ago won his fights (beat the hell out of peckem) and himself a contrac (he ended up in the echl and then ahl). On some players fighting is what teams care about and knowing how even the talented ones can do is also important

    • dawgbone98

      And how many NHL games does Adam Huxley have? It’s fantastic that he’s managed to find a career but it served almost no point for the Oilers.

      Finding careers for goons is probably the last thing these camps should accomplish.

      I fully understand why the players are doing it, but I think the point is that the teams shouldn’t encourage it.

  • Use to love watching 2 big bruisers go at it. But now not so much. I love a good hockey fight, but fighting for the sake of fighting? Fights shouldnt happen in the first period, 3rd most likely after 40 minutes+ when two guys have been battling all game and finally one cant take anymore crap from the other. Just not a fan of two guys from the drop of the puck, going at it.

  • Craig1981

    My Opinion…..

    Fighting serves no purpose in the league as far as the game goes. I agree with Cam that it never sways momentum in any teams direction anybody who believes otherwise is entitled to their opinion but I would call B.S. on that.

    Secondly I am a fan of proffesional fighting, mainly the UFC. If I wish to watch fighting i will do it there. Thats where the worlds best fighters end up and I have yet to see a hockey player on the pay per view card. (correct me if i’m wrong)

    Watching mediocre fighters duke it out in a hockey game no longer interests me as others have mentioned previously as well. When I was a child/teenager it sure did seem a lot more exciting but since those years the fighters have failed to impress me with their fighting skills and for the most part their skills in the game of hockey.

    I would not miss it for one minute if it were gone.

    But thats just me……

  • Gretzkin

    I think the instigator rule needs to be taken out so they can fight properly and reinforce the respect of the players.
    I don’t mind a heavyweight bout, but letting them police themselves a bit more could serve to make it safer out there.
    Without fighting, there’s no consequence.

  • Wax Man Riley

    Im sorry but that was a completely useless article. Players realise they have to fight to get noticed. Last night the Oil had an invite player (Schmidt) and he fought and got noticed. Think an undrafted defensive defensemen is going to get noticed on skill alone?

    There will always be fighting and it has to be in the game cause it is the nature of the game. If you get noticed early on and are willing to fight in meaningless games the coaches and managment will see what kind of player you are.

    I think the more fighting in pre season for players on the cusp of making there pro team is alot better than a player being an injury call up in the middle of the season and doing something stupid to get noticed (like jumping a star player on the other team)

    Fighting is what sets hockey apart and what makes the atheletes some of the toughest in pro sports. I think hockey should stop trying to conform to what everyone outside of hockey wants it to be and let it have the traditional aspect to it like every other sport in the world. I dont see Soccer or Rugby changing anything and it has been around alot longer than hockey

  • Fighting has a place in the game.

    There. I said it.

    Temper’s flare, emotions run wild, and things happen in the heat of the moment.

    If Darcy Tucker takes a run at Michael Peca and clips his knee in the process, I have no problem with Arron Asham coming over and scrapping Tucker (loosely based on actual events).

    If Jarome Iginla & Vinny Lecavalier, or Ryan Getzlaf & Joe Thornton want to have a scrap over the course of a 7 game series, all the power to them. There is a reason. It serves a purpose.

    What I am tired of seeing – and this has changed for me, and I think many others on BOTH sides of the fighting debate can agree – is the super-heavyweights on either team squaring off every 2 or 3 or 4 games. It no longer serves a purpose (if it ever did). The 6″5″, 240lb. “knuckle-dragger”, or the 6’7″, 255lb. “dancing bear” has run its course. The game does not need those guys. Steve MacIntyre may be a great guy off the ice, someone you really want to pull for once talking to him, but he doesn’t belong ANYWHERE near the NHL. I think he proved that rather well over the last couple seasons. Yet he got a new contract. Why?

    And there’s others: Trevor Gillies saw an average of 3:04 of ice time in 39 games (less than 2 hours of total ice time over the course of the season); David Koci saw an average of 4:05 over 35 games; Derek Boogaard & Wade Belak both saw less than 5:00 on average.

    These types of players have become extinct in my mind. If a guy can’t play say at least 8-10 minutes on average, he probably doesn’t belong in the league. If he can barely skate, turns like a battleship, and handles the puck like a grenade, he probably doesn’t belong in the league.

    This is where I get frustrated. It’s not fighting as a whole that should be targeted by the anti-fight crowd. The true target, in my opinion, should be the “goon”.

    -In 76 games, Kyle Clifford had 7-7-14 and 141 PIMs (18 fights) while averaging 9:30 per game. In his rookie season. To me, he is an effective player.

    -In 79 games, Shawn Thornon had 10-10-20 and 122 PIMs while averaging 10:04 per game. He had 14 fights. Effective player.

    -Brandon Prust had 13-16-29 and 160 PIMs (18 fights) while averaging 13:48 per game. He played all 82 games. Effective player.

    These are but a few examples on either side of the fence.

    I am pro-fighting. I am anti-goon. Let’s not get confused here – fighting has a place in the game… “dancing bears” do not.

    • Except if having one of these “enforcers” playing a few minutes means you can get your skilled guys more icetime…

      I know it will never happen, but the game would be much better if you eliminated 2 forward positions on the playing roster. You could still keep the same amount of guys on the active roster (so the NHLPA wouldn’t freak out about losing jobs), but there wouldnt be room to dress a Goddard or Gillies if they cant play.

      That being said, the way the rosters are now – I like the idea of having a 4th line of specialized players (maybe an enforcer, a PK/Faceoff specialist and maybe even a defensively weak PP guy).

      The way I see it, with a guy like McIntyre in the line-up on RW that gives more icetime to skilled RW like Hemsky and Eberle.

      With TV timeouts, improvements in conditioning, etc – there is no reason why 10 forwards couldn’t play during any given game.

      People will argue that fewer players means a greater chance of injury, etc. Every team will be in the same baot and teams will still have the same active roster size to replace any player that may become injured or fatigued throughout the season.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Physical intimidation has and still is an integral part of hockey . Even with fighting and head shots removed from game , they can/will find other ways to intimidate and wear off emotions . Unfortuneately that will probably mean more stickwork ,etc.. No one thing will do everything by itself . One thing that will never work is leaving it up to the players !! A dangerous play rule might be best avenue to start from , which frowns upon players targeting vulnerable areas of body . Maybe a good penalty for targeting a dangerous play infraction would be to have player have to hug and kiss his opponent for forgiveness . That embarrasssment just might work to curtail some of that injurious unwanted play .

    The staged fight is still better than watching your star players getting beat to a pulp or run at by big goons , etc. that frequently happens still . Star rules i am for , just like quarterback rules in football ! Not like all the stars are Iginlas or Ovechkins .

  • Peterborough

    Another ridiculous piece of garbage from Cam Charron, who has quickly become the most irrevant writer in the nation family.

    Congrats Cam! It can’t have been easy.

    • Wax Man Riley

      I don’t agree with everything that is written on the Nation Sites, but I appreciate them for writing it.

      Add something of value, or keep your garbage comments to yourself.

      Also, “irrevant” isn’t a word.

      • Peterborough

        You’re right that was unfair to Cam and generally a waste of time. Sorry for that Cam I do appriciate the spirit of your work. However: Guys like Cam Abney need to showcase themselves and thats what is going to get them to the show.

        Fighting should stay untill it disapears from the NHL. These kids are prospects too and until their is no need for fighters (that day may be comming soon, I’ll admit) they need a venue as much as anyone else.

        Its part of the game . . . for now at least.

  • Eddie Shore

    One thing being overlooked here is that these games are not “meaningless”. These kids have 2 or 3 games to make an impact on management. If fighting a guy tonight, gets me in the lineup tomorrow, you better believe I am going to fight when asked.

  • dawgbone98

    I think there is nothing to worry about and the Oilers have depth at all positions. Once the defence matures and gets better it will be no surprise our goaltending will all of a sudden be nothing to really worry about. I think we desperately need to a puck moving power power play specialist on the point. Hall and Hopkins look like a future Sakic and Forsberg combination. I see a Stanley Cup in the near future and Hall will be front and centre. Go Oil

  • I am the Liquor

    Perhaps we should remove hitting from the game too? Then the fans can see even more of the star players as the injury rate will drop off to next to nothing.

    After all, Ive done some research, and there is no evidence that body checking actually helps teams win games.

    Just a thought.

  • O.C.

    These are pre-season games involving a broad cross section of talents among rookies.

    Unlike the all star game.
    Unlike the junior prospects game.
    These are pre season, exhibition games for ALL noobs.

    Exhibition games exhibit talents. Fighting, checking, passing, hitting, face-offs, PK, theses are all skills to exhibit. (Oh and also passing, shooting, scoring, and for most goalies, saving. )

    Fighting happens in pre season, regular season, and playoffs.

    Let’s not kid ourselves, this isn’t an all star game.

  • Jesus, it’s like people take a look at the words “There shouldn’t be fighting…” and immediately drag out the same lame arguments (“LOL let’s ban hitting too” “hockey is a MAN’S game asdf”). I’m sick of these prospect fights, and I appreciated this article.

    • O.C.

      These aren’t prospect games however… These kids are already chosen, (for the most part – there are walk ons.). It’s a prelude to allocation. Time to show your talents, all of them.

      I appreciate the article as well.

      It generates opinions and discussion.

      They are doing their best, sometimes poorly, at showcasing their skills. Some are proving they are not great skill players.

      And, some of these fights are lame. Some are proving they are, and some are proving they are not, bringing other attributes to the table.

    • I am the Liquor

      These players are fighting for jobs. Literally. Fighting in training camps (that is essentially what this is) are commonplace and have been happening for years and years.

      And yes, the bleeding heart gang will look to remove body checking from the game if and when fighting is ever banned from the sport.

      Its already happening with the “head shot” rules that have been brought in. Im all for protecting players, and personally I could do without fighting, especially the staged fights, but if you dont think there are those actively considering changing the game then you havent been paying attention.

  • O.C.

    JOB Opening – Temporary player specialists needed for Temp workload that could lead to more fulltime . Large pay and benefits consumant with use , and may be at more than one venue or team . Some minor league training may be necessary . Are you a team player even if only a temp one ?

  • sofarsogood

    Wow, I went straight for the comment section after this read. Whats next, no hitting. That hurts more players than fighting. Try to eliminate staged fights, no more. If you can play hockey, fight all you want.

    • sofarsogood

      that line of reasoning is ambitious. it takes alot of work to make that jump from fighting in rookie camps to no hitting in NHL, but you’ve done it and i commmend you for how illogical it is.

      when people discuss fighting or headshots they do not, DO NOT (for clarification), say eliminate hitting.

      this is not a stretching contest.

      • I am the Liquor

        In the space of a year we have gone from nothing to no headshots under certain conditions, to talk of no headshots period of any kind, to removing fighting from the game.

        That is a pretty sizeable shift in philosophy. Its not “stretching” much at all to suggest that taking the ban on further incidents/types of body contact may be on the horizon.

        Especially if Crosby has an abbreviated career.

        • I am the Liquor

          the shift may seem quick and large but to some extent in regards to headshots they are simply enforcing rules already in place.

          seeing what we see and knowing what we know is it not at least advisable to talk about things?

          i would not suggest remove hitting (headshots yes) from the game but i would be remiss to at least not discuss fighting, equipment, etc.

          it is clear to me that cam charron did not say anything in this piece about removing hitting and the insuation that he is…that is a “stretch”.

          • I am the Liquor

            Removing hitting from the game is really no more preposturous than what the author is proposing with this article.

            Its a knee-jerk reaction to an unfortunate incident that happened a couple of days ago.