Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Yzerman: Eject fighting players from games

Shawn Thornton of the Boston Bruins and Pierre-Cedric Labrie of the Lightning fight in the first period of their season-opening game Thursday in Boston.

Getty Images

Shawn Thornton of the Boston Bruins and Pierre-Cedric Labrie of the Lightning fight in the first period of their season-opening game Thursday in Boston.

The debate about whether to abolish fighting in the NHL has heated up again thanks to the concussion sustained Tuesday by Montreal's George Parros during a fight with Toronto's Colton Orr.

Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman contributed to it by saying it is time the league considered game misconduct penalties for players who brawl.

"We are at a stage now where we should consider ejecting players from the game much like every other sport does," Yzerman told the Tampa Bay Times.

But Yzerman's objection to fighting goes beyond his belief it is an unnecessary part of the game. Yzerman also believes that to allow fighting contradicts the much-publicized steps taken by the league and players association to reduce head injuries.

As he told the Times: "It's my understanding everyone wants to reduce head injuries in hockey. We've taken steps by changing rules to make them more penalizing for any player making contact with a player's head on body checking. Yet, we allow fighting, which is obviously a direct blow to the head and which is directly contradictory to what the league is trying to do."

That's tough to argue against, except many players still believe fighting has its place, and Tampa Bay right wing B.J. Crombeen, who led the league last season with 14 fights, is one of them.

There are plenty of reasons to fight, Crombeen said, whether it is to stick up for a teammate or "to make a point or set a tone."

Crombeen agrees that what he called "staged, unnecessary fights" should be eliminated. "But most guys who have played the game understand the role fighting plays," he said. "I don't ever think it will be out of the game."

Said Lightning coach Jon Cooper: "I believe intimidation, if you will, is still part of the game. Intimidation comes in so many different forms. It can come in fighting. It can come in being physical. It can come in a team's ability to score. It can come in a team's ability to hit. There's just different variables in it, and fighting is one of them. … It's within the rules, and I don't see anything wrong with it."

Fighting advocates also point out that Parros was hurt when his chin smashed into the ice after Orr slipped and pulled him down. Crombeen called it "a fluke play."

Yzerman called it a byproduct of a hole in the league's program to reduce head injuries.

"We're stuck in the middle and need to decide what kind of sport we want to be," Yzerman told Canada's TSN TV network. "Either anything goes and we except the consequences or (we) take the next step and eliminate fighting."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at

Yzerman: Eject fighting players from games 10/05/13 [Last modified: Saturday, October 5, 2013 7:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    OF/DH Corey Dickerson missed out on a good birthday gift when AL player of the week honors went instead to Detroit's J.D. Martinez. Dickerson hit .385 with five homers, nine RBIs and nine runs; Martinez went .389-4-9-7 and got the nod.

  3. Rays journal: Alex Cobb learning to work with what he has



    If this were 2012 or 2013, even 2014, RHP Alex Cobb would have problems. He would find himself working with only two of his three pitches, with the missing pitch being his trusty changeup.

    Alex Cobb, working mainly with his fastball and curveball, is 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA over his past five starts. The Rays right-hander tries to continue his strong stretch tonight against the Angels.
  4. Rays vs. Angels, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Angels

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Fennelly: This season's Chris Archer is a pleasure to watch

    The Heater


    At this time last season, through 10 starts, Rays pitcher Chris Archer was 3-5 on his way to 9-19.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Chris Archer (22) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, May 21, 2017.