| Carlyle, the Leafs and Fighting [message #607468]
Wed, 25 September 2013 14:28
Registered: August 2005
Location: Edmonton, AB
An interesting article, and pretty topical given what's gone on the last few days.
The connection to fighting and winning remains tenuous as best, and more likely non-existent. In the past 10 years the Stanley Cup winner has typically finished about 20th in the league in fighting majors. Take out exceptions like the 2011 Boston Bruins (second) and Carlyle’s 2007 Cup winners in Anaheim and the average for the other Cup winners is 24th.
The Detroit Red Wings have made 22 consecutive playoffs, winning the Cup four times in that stretch, and are nearly always the team with the least fighting majors in the league.
But Carlyle believes what he believes. Among other reasons he’s cited in the past is that having players like Orr and McLaren doing their jobs makes it harder for the rest of the lineup to balk at doing tasks they might not prefer. How can you complain about taking out the trash when your teammate has just returned from the abattoir with blood on his hands?
The last line of the article talks about Carlyle making a team in his own image and I found that interesting as I remember him as a skill defenceman, not a pugilist. He did dirty his hands from time to time though:
Like Oilers management though, I think these former players need to realize the game has changed from the 1980s. I know a lot of people around here think that's a bad thing, but it's part of a long progression. In the 50s, teams would bring in goons specifically to fight the other team's star players (think Bob Dill vs. Maurice Richard). In the 60s, stick jousting wasn't uncommon (until Ted Green got brained). In the 70s, the Broad Street Bullies destroyed the game for a few years, turning hockey games in to a circus to intimidate their way to two Cups. Two-on-one fights were commonplace. All out bench-clearing brawls continued in to the 80s. Fights in the 80s didn't end when the player hit the ice - they continued until the guy on top's arm got tired or the refs were able to pry him off.
The "Fighter's Code" that people talk about now is a relatively new phenomenon, adapted over the last couple of decades. Incidents like John Scott going after Phil Kessel happened all the time in the 70s - the only difference was that Scott wouldn't have grabbed at him at the face-off, he'd have come in and grabbed him at a scrum and fed him punches until he was forced to stop (or until Larry Robinson knocked him the @#%$ out - see Dave "the Hammer" Schultz).
The fact is, in the olden days, fighting could contribute to wins. If you could injure or knock out the other team's stars or make them worry that at any time three of your guys might be feeding them punches, or even if you could just take them out of the game for five minutes at the expense of a hired thug from your lineup, then you could get an advantage.
The Code came in to being mostly because these guys didn't want to be the black hats any more. Fighters wanted to be seen as protecting their guys and keeping the peace. For a while, that was likely the case. Semenko and Hunter fought because they were keeping each other from fighting Messier and MacInnis. By the time of Laraque, there was little thought of fighters actually trying to go after a star unless there was some real good reason. And as it is now, it's seen as abhorrent that a guy like Scott would try to grab a player like Kessel with a career high of 28 PIMs in a season. Had he managed it and pummelled Kessel, a lengthy suspension would likely have been the result.
The game has changed and these guys are irrelevant now. The sooner team's realize that, the better they'll be. There may still be fights. Actual hockey players going full-out are likely to rub each other the wrong way, but I don't think we're going to see the Leafs intimidate their way to any wins with their multi-enforcer lineup and I don't think MacIntyre will be a part of any success the Oilers enjoy.
Join us tomorrow when Healy says Zdeno Chara may not have a lot of natural height...