Leafs Don't Want Fighters Ejected
PHILADELPHIA--No surprise. The team that led the NHL in fighting last season isn't interested in having players ejected for dropping the gloves.
"No, I'm not in favour of that," said Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis today. "I'd oppose giving a game misconduct for fighting. I don't think that would help police the game. I still believe there's a place in the game for fighting."
Nonis did say, however, that he would be interested in discussion stronger rules against fighting in general, such as stricter use of the instigator penalty, legislation aimed at so-called "staged" fights and penalties for multiple fights, either within games or within seasons.
"There's a certain point at which fighting doesn't police the game," he said.
The Leafs led the NHL in fights last season, and opened the 2013-14 season in Montreal on Tuesday night by being involved in five separate fights with the Canadiens. Two of those involved enforcers Colton Orr and George Parros, the second of which landed Parros in the hospital after he awkwardly fell face-first into the ice.
A TSN.ca report on Wednesday suggested three GMs - Steve Yzerman (Tampa Bay), Jim Rutherford (Carolina) and Ray Shero (Pittsburgh) - are strongly in favour of having players ejected from games for fighting.
"We've got to get rid of fighting, it has to go," Rutherford was quoted as saying. St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong said in another report that he supports the views of the three GMs.
Later in the day, legendary NHL coach Scotty Bowman tweeted that he supported the views of the three GMs.
Nonis, however, said he was wary about changing the rules on fighting.
"We've got to be really careful what we do," he said. "A lot of things can happen from one rule change. There's positives and negatives to every rule."
The topic may come up at the NHL GM meetings in November. In 2009, the GMs voted for new rules against fighting, but those were contested by the NHL Players Association led by career enforcer Georges Laraque and ultimately didn't become part of the NHL rule book.