Tampa Bay Lightning players, coaches skeptical of GMs' proposal to curb fighting

OTTAWA — Stricter enforcement of the instigator rule.

That proposal out of this week's general managers meetings was met with skepticism by Lightning players and coaches, who said the rule already inhibits self-policing.

"Personally, you'd rather have no instigator and make people accountable for the way they play," LW Ryan Malone said Wednesday. "Now they're trying to enforce it more, you might see more of those cheap shots or instances where players are in a vulnerable position getting hurt instead of, if I see someone's back, I know I'm going to have to pay the consequences. It would make you think twice, for sure, if there was no instigator.

"I know a couple of players in the league whose game might change if they had to stand up for themselves and fight."

The rule, instituted to stop mindless brawling, calls for an extra two minutes and a 10-minute misconduct penalty on players who provoke fights.

"My problem is where you have a player who takes advantage of the situation where he is protected by the refs, and he keeps sticking people, and you try to address it, and the other team gets penalized for it," coach Rick Tocchet said. "You eliminate that and I don't think you're going to have all those other problems with fighting."

The proposal needs seven of 10 votes during June's competition committee meeting before it is rubber stamped by the Board of Governors and the players association's executive board.

HELMET ISSUE: Tocchet said he was disappointed GMs did not recommend helmets stay on during fights. In a show of sportsmanship, some players remove helmets to lose the protection visors provide. It also prevents hands from punching plastic.

"You ask fighters, they say when helmets are on, there are more injuries," said Lightning C Jeff Halpern, a member of the competition committee. "It's a pretty tricky subject. I understand the sympathy the league has for players who have gone through an injury because their helmet has been off, but I don't know if there's a clear-cut answer as far as how to deal with that."

Said Tocchet: "I understand when a guy has a visor on. He's trying to show character and say I don't want that much of an advantage. But I've been in fights where helmets have come off, and I've seen guys hit their head on the ice. That's scary."

ANOTHER ADDITION: D Richard Petiot, acquired from Toronto at last week's trade deadline, was the 47th player to play for Tampa Bay (six off the 1999-2000 team record) and the 19th defenseman.

The callup from AHL Norfolk was solid, with three shots and two blocks in 18:13 of ice time.

"He did a really nice job for us," Tocchet said. "I was impressed with him."

Petiot, 26, who played his third NHL game, said of his "exciting" opportunity, "You've got to make the most of it when you can."

ODDS AND ENDS: RW Evgeny Artyukhin got 14 penalty minutes in the first period, including a 10-minute misconduct, for bloodying the mouth of fallen Senator Jarkko Ruutu with several punches. … D Marek Malik (ankle) is not on the trip. … LW David Koci was scratched.

Tampa Bay Lightning players, coaches skeptical of GMs' proposal to curb fighting 03/11/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 12, 2009 7:16am]

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