3 fights during season's first scrmmage
Lightning forward Evgeny Artyukhin (left) drops the gloves and excepts the invitation to fight with forward Zenon Konopka towards the beginning of a team scrimmage. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
If you get a chance, read tomorrow's story on Thursday's scrimmage. Great quotes from Zenon Konopka who fought twice, once against Evgeny Artyukhin and once against Matt Smaby during what was an edgy intra-squad confrontation. Three fights total, including Adam Hall against Radek Smolenak, and lots of hitting. Artyukhin's run at Vladimir Mihalik bent the boards toward the stands.
It was good stuff for coach Barry Melrose, who said he wants to "create a culture here of physical play and guys who play hard. The question for me is, where is the line? Guys need to make an impression by fighting, that's fine. But should it be done during exhibition games and not against your own teammates.
Melrose said he didn't mind fights between teammates who are trying to win jobs. Asked about the potential for injury, he said, "You can't worry about injuries in hockey. When they happen, they happen. You've got to play the way you play."
The way Konopka plays is to hit everything that moves. He even admitted challenging Artyukhin to a fight 2:09 into a 60-minute scrimmage. The only Lightning players he said were "off limits" as far as targets to be hit were captain Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis.
Asked if he was worried about making enemies of potential teammates, Konopka said, "When I line up against them, they're my enemy and that's the way it has to be. Right now, I'm not here to make friends."
Personally, I don't mind a fight between teammates as long as the officials at the scrimmage break it up before someone gets hurt. The Konopka-Artyukhin scuffle went on for about a minute with no damaging punches landed. The other bouts were short.