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Love-of-Team Tilts and The Skate-By



When Clark Gillies is your Dad, you can say this:

During the Coyotes/Lightnight game, Paul Bissonnette fought Matt Walker (first names learned after extensive Googling).  Bri, Clarks daughter and my fiance, says “Oh…. oh this is awkward.  I can’t watch.  *glancing through fingers* …Just so embarrassing…” 

I laughed my ass off.  Cause really… a fight where two semi-mad guys have good defensive jersey holds…. ain’t no Clark Gillies tilt (Bossy gets run in the corner just before the fight - long version is on YouTube): 

And actually, that video is a nice intro to this weeks USA Today column.  I write a bit of a theory on why we’re seeing more players get their cantaloupe’s cracked with no suspension and rarely a real follow-up fight.  Enjoy.


I hate the “goal-score skate-by”.


There’s no quicker way for your teammates to build lingering resentment towards you than to score a goal, and insist on skating somewhere past the closest guy to get your extra four seconds of glory.  Curtis Glencross, my teammate in Alaska, was the king of this.  He’d skate by your open arms after a back-door pass he tapped in to go jump into the glass.  God, he loved him some glass jump.

This was not me.  The whole fun of the celebration is the stupid nonsensical shit that gets said in the pile anyways.  Especially in college, where skating down the bench is allowed – guys are so fired up half they time they hustle more than they did on the actual goal.

But watching the NHL today, there’s still a large number of (*cough*euros*cough*) people doing the skate-by.  Which is why I was extremely happy to see the Penguins overtime winner the other day.  Dupuis scores, starts to skate mach six in the other direction, realizes that Staal went behind the net, stole the puck and passed it to him, and throws on the breaks.  I officially like Dupuis now.  Showed he has a conscience.

What a finish to that game.  You know it’s a dangerous 3 on 2 when Sidney Crosby has the least dangerous shot on the rush.  Attaway Billy G.


8 Responses to “Love-of-Team Tilts and The Skate-By”
  1. ms.conduct says:

    I don’t need Gillies blood in my veins to have been watching that fight out of the corner of my half-closed eye, hoping it gets less embarrassing if I can’t see it quite so well. That was just… ugh. If you’re gonna be that squirrely in a fight, just don’t bother.

  2. Neil says:

    Your article on headshots was a really interesting read. A lot of players talk about “lack of respect” and while it is tempting to look at a guy like Avery and agree, suggesting everyone “respected” the players on Philly back then is like saying everyone respects the mafia. The changes in dressing room make-up with the salary cap are a great point, I don’t think I have read anything like that anywhere else.

    I agree, I hate it when someone pots a nice pass and then totally bypasses everyone on their team to celebrate like they just pulled some Brian Leetch or Bob Bourne end-to-end shit.

    Something about removing the instigator that I don’t get (regarding your USA Today post). If there is no instigator penalty, who decides whether or not Brashear should get a penalty for walking over to say, Jarko Ruutu, and beating him up after a big hit? It seems this puts the refs in the position of having to decide if a guy is worth beating up or not. Shouldn’t there be a penalty for beating a guy up who didn’t do anything other than legally lay a few solid checks on some star players? If the current refs in the NHL are incapable of watching a game at full speed and determining what is and isn’t a legal check, how are they supposed to know if a guy like Brashear is protecting teammates or just being a goon?

    Maybe a bigger problem is… don’t guys immediately fight EVERYONE now for EVERY hit, even clean ones where guys don’t get hurt? If someone cleanly hits Brassard there will be a fight within seconds, doesn’t this pattern of behaviour suggest the instigator penalty isn’t really dissuading people from fighting to defend teammates? If anything, it seems like a lot of guys just accept that throwing big hits will come with the occasional bit of retribution when you really nail someone?

  3. Neil says:

    BTW, I don’t know who your buddy Glencross knows, but how the hell did he knock out Chris Drury in the first five minutes of a game, off-puck, and get 3 games with no media discussion? I would love to think that was an accident because that was some dirty shit.

  4. jtbourne says:

    Neil – Yeah, I think if your point that guys fight guys now after every hit were true, you’d have a point. Who fought Glencross? Who fought Mcarthur? Morency was being a donkey in preseason, but why didn’t the other four guys on the ice seem to genuinely care that Okposo was napping on the ice? Clean or not, in the day, if you ran Mike Bossy, you answered for it. The point was, “you don’t run our elite guys”. I know you’re allowed to run the elite guys, the point was… just don’t.

    The biggest BS that has fans, somehow fooled is that guys are actually trying to get at each other to fight when there’s linesmen in the pile, and they’re pawing at each other. Like straight ahead is the only route. These guys are on skates, and agile. If two guys want to fight, they can and will. Watching Clarks fights, sometimes the guy had to move like Bure to track his guy down. Nobody actually wants to stand up for guys, they want to appear to.

    What I meant with the damning of the instigator was that a borderline hit followed by a fight is not instigated at the moment of the fight. A fight that comes after a big blow-up should never come with an instigator penalty. If you’re tough enough to try to destroy some guy, you better be able to stand up for yourself. It sounds a little playgroundy, I know, but I agree- if Brashear just starts wailing on someone unprompted, that’s not cool. If you’re scared to fight Donald Brashear, then don’t blow up his linemate. That used to be the plus of having tough guys on your team/line. It created space and protected guys by making people really evaluate the “do I really wanna do this-ness” of the situation. Lord knows the Isles never lacked for room (or ability) to score goals just cause they had tough guys (Clark scored like, 600 points, making him effective in a number of ways).

    Oh, and stay tuned for tomorrow – I wrote a different take on head shots for The Hockey News. The “okay, I’m done pointing the finger at the league, why haven’t the players just stopped doing it yet?” angle.

  5. Cassie says:

    Totally loved your article in USA Today, but I have one point I just can’t agree with you on. It wasn’t the salary cap that ended the locker room loyalty love-in. That was going on long before that.

    GMs have been trading players like 9-year-olds trade hockey cards long before the most recent lockout. For instance, five years after the Canucks went to the Finals in ’94, there were only two or three guys left in Vancouver from that team. And they weren’t the exception – that was very common. Which is why I tend to follow players instead of teams. Players get moved around too much for me to emotionally invest in an entire team.

    The SB Nation Tampa Bay hockey blog? Well, that was just something I sort of fell into. Not a fan of the team, but I do like a few of the players.

    The instigator penalty thing, tho, you are so right on about.

  6. Neil says:

    True, they don’t always answer and guys clearly aren’t afraid to throw the hits. But it is still really common: TSN always has some guy complaining that good hits draw immediate fights, and guys who almost never fight will drop the gloves instinctually (sometimes) when their guy gets railed (a la Brassard vs. Neal). My point though is that even if it happens only 40-60% of the time, isn’t that evidence that the presence of an instigator penalty isn’t actually deterring players from going after a guy? Or consider the recent flurry of 10k fines and 1 game suspensions for late game fights– guys still do it, no? Considering the stupid crap people go to the box for (Ryan Getzlaf) is it that big of a deal to eat a 2 minute instigator penalty to break some guy’s nose and send a message? Your point about guys being “held up” by a linesman when they could easily work a little and go around could support the conclusion that taking away the instigator won’t change much: if they are too apathetic to actually scrap when they know the extra two is already coming, why would they scrap harder knowing they aren’t getting a penalty? (aren’t they taking the extra two and not even fighting?)

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m no lover of the instigator penalty or idiots on the ice, and without watching a lot of hockey from past eras (which I didn’t, I only started a few years ago) I have no perspective. I just don’t totally understand why people (including my prophet Don Cherry) are confident it will increase respect, lower injuries, etc. Why not get better refs penalizing and suspending donkeys until teams learn not to bring them, just like they learned not to hook everyone and tie up guys without the puck?

  7. Neil says:

    Re: “why haven’t the players stopped doing it yet” (which I can’t wait to read) it was interesting to see Richards drop Booth the same way he dropped the guy from Atlanta (sorry too lazy to google), Richards gave the usual “I don’t want to hurt anyone but I have to take that hit”, ex-teammate R.J. Umberger said Richards is a clean player who never tries to seriously hurt anyone, and the hockey media is now fairly united in the belief that Richards is an excellent but slightly dirty player. It begs the question, why are nice guys who want to play clean hockey so convinced that taking heads off is part of their job description?

  8. Goody says:

    Hmmm… Interesting take on “respect”. In your opinion, bonding as a group over a period of years leads to teammates sticking up for each other and as such commanding “respect” from other players. I’ve often wondered if the opposite might be true. Playing with a guay and then having them traded might lead to a different kind of “respect”. That is, maybe you play with guy A for a year or two, then you or he gets traded. Now you meet guy A on the ice as an opponent. From the time you spent with guy A on your team, you know he’s a nice guy, has 2 good kids at home,etc. Maybe you show him a little more “respect” and don’t hit him quite as hard, pass on the questionable hit, etc. But then, these are highly competitive players…

    Looking forward to today’s piece in The Hockey News.

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