Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
Blog Entry

No need to 'answer the bell' after good hits

Posted on: December 23, 2011 11:55 am
 

By Brian Stubits

There is a growing trend in hockey and quite frankly, it's stupid. That's the best word I can think of to describe it.

There is a lot of discussion these days in the NHL on fighting and hitting. The two physical aspects of the game were already intertwined, but they seem to be colliding even more these days. With Brendan Shanahan's focus on removing bad hits from the game through the use of his Shanahammer, maybe the players are more on edge and aware of it themselves.

Here's what I don't get. The old-school hockey people continue to complain about these measures taking hitting out of hockey. Players don't seem to want anything to do with that, nor do many fans -- removing hitting, that is.

So why is it that when a player delivers a clean but vicious hit in today's NHL, they have to "answer the bell" as Ryan Kesler of the Canucks put it? I understand fully the concept of a guy having to answer for a bad hit. After all, that's one of the biggest arguments people use for justifying fighting in hockey, the enforcers are out there to discourage the other team from taking cheap shots at your teammates. If any liberties are taken, then you'll have the liberty of meeting the other team's tough guy.

As long as fighting is "allowed" -- I'll play along with Gary Bettman's semantics game that fighting isn't allowed, it is punished -- I have no qualms about a player having to answer to somebody's fists about a bad hit. That's a case of reaping what you sew when you add a couple of the bad stitches into the equation.

But enough is enough with fights after good, clean hits. Nothing is going to take hitting out of the game faster than players having to face a fight for every good check they deliver.

It happens on a seemingly nightly basis in the NHL. The best, most recent example came on Wednesday night in a game between the Detroit Red Wings and Vancouver Canucks. It was after that game that Kesler talked about answering the bell. What he was referring to was a bit hit levied on him by Niklas Kronwall. Here's a look at the play.

Could the Canucks have some beef with the hit? OK, a little. Kronwall did leave the ice to make the hit, but it was a man coming at him with the puck on his stick. Also, right or wrong, there was no penalty given on the play. Still, Kesler was revved up and obviously wanted a piece of Kronwall.

“I like the hit, but my only problem with the hit is that he doesn’t stand up for himself,” Kesler said. “If you're going hit guys like that, you're going to have to drop the gloves.

“I gotta get my head up. Obviously you see him backing up and you know that’s his move there. I think you have to put the blame on the ‘hittee’ a little bit, but I also think he’s gotta stand up for himself.”

The always vocal Kevin Bieksa put his two cents in on the situation as well.

"Because how sneaky it is, it's a little bit dirty," Bieksa said after the game. "If you're going to do that, you should pay the price and he hasn't paid the price yet. So he loses a little respect in my book."

So let me get this straight: Kesler had no problems with the hit and even implicated himself for part of the responsibility but thinks Kronwall still needs to put his dukes up? Why? Because, as Bieksa puts it, it was sneaky? If you have no problems with the actual hit, then requesting the guy to fight isn't the answer. You guys still have more time to play, you are free to hit Kronwall in return.

Thanks to the magic of HBO and 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic we saw another example of this concept at work.

In the Rangers' recent visit to the Phoenix Coyotes, Mike Rupp was seen laying a good, solid hit along the boards on Kyle Chipchura. Moments later he is being jumped by the Coyotes' Raffi Torres, whereupon the refs immediately come in and are insisting to Torres it was a clean hit from Rupp. (NSFW Warning: In case you didn't know, NHL players -- and the refs -- have potty mouths. You've been warned.)

As a side note, maybe the most interesting part of the second episode was following the refs into their locker room where they discussed the hit a little further.

Now neither of this incident or the Kronwall/Kesler one resulted in a fight, but that wasn't for the lack of trying from the instigators. There have been plenty of other hits this season that have led to fights after what the referees and later the NHL deemed were OK hits.

Quite frankly, players getting aggressive toward others for clean hits is as threatening to hitting in the game as any league official. If guys are going to have to "answer the bell" when players come knocking after a good hit, then in essence the players themselves are discouraging hitting among their fellow athletes.

It almost feels like a machismo thing to me. A guy gets clobbered during play so he has to save face and get the guy back. Not to sound like a cranky old man, but I'm tired of it.

Don't read this as an anti-fighting column. It's not that. Instead it is anti-stupid fighting. Asking guys to drop the gloves are good hits is a waste of time -- literally as the player will have to sit at least five minutes if he gets the fight. Just get back up and play hockey.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Comments

Since: Mar 15, 2011
Posted on: December 26, 2011 1:59 pm
 

No need to 'answer the bell' after good hits

This nonsense of having to fight or having a scrum after every clean hit is garbage. Kesler looked like a fool chasing after Kronwall. Mr Stubits is spot on. It will eventually take hitting totally out of thr game. Kesler should have taken a number and got him back the old time way. Delivering a check of his own. BUT NOOOOOOOOOOO after he got done chasing Kronwall HE DELIVERED A KNEE/KNEE to Zetterberg. THAT was gutless/classless. He should have been suspended for a deliberate attempt to injure. Cry on Canucks. You will never win anything with that current bunch!



Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: December 26, 2011 10:00 am
 

No need to 'answer the bell' after good hits

because afforementioned player may have seen his teammate on the ice and didnt actually see the hit but when in doubt they react
I agree, and those scenarios drive me crazy. 
If a guy has to fight everytime he makes a big hit, it's going to take hitting out of the game more than any rule change.

not anymore than the 15 linesman and refs along with so many of the rules in todays game have. the rules and on ice clowns have hampered that more than anything
I don't think there's more than 8 officials on the ice maybe 10 at most.    I think most clubs value hitting more than the ability to answer with dropped gloves anymore.   With the slack enforcement of the instigator rule, I think we would see more dedicated enforcer/fighter types under longer or more valuable contracts if that wasn't the case.   I have to look up fight to instigator penalty ratios, but I'm guessing it's been a few seasons of a smaller ratio of instigators called.
hes written 2 in the last week regarding the physical play and the fighting and I thought both were terrible.
His opinions here have been the same as a few hockey media types that don't want fighting or hitting to go away.   I think this article doesn't reflect anything to get rid of hitting or fighting.   I could be mistaken.
The players themselves are ruining the advantages of physical play on their own in more and more circumstances.
I dont see it that way at all. I think some of the crap rules and over zealous-trying to make an impression refs have done muchmore in that regard than the players ever will
I can understand that perspective, and I would suggest that if they enforced the instigator rule and embellishment rules to include supplemental discipline (as others have suggested) that THIS particlar problem may go away in large part.

the 'instigator' doesnt get thrown out as much as it used to I thik because it was the flavor of the week more in previous yeras.
I agree.
but I will say if it gets any more stringent Bettman will ahve to look into implementing pink dresses for the players and then atleast fans will know what to expect from the product they paid their hard earned money for
I've seen Joel Quenneville in a pink tie, but I don't think it's picked up with the players or too many coaches yet.   I wonder what the NHLPA would think of it.


little ceasars
Since: Jan 1, 2009
Posted on: December 25, 2011 8:36 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator



little ceasars
Since: Jan 1, 2009
Posted on: December 25, 2011 8:27 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator




Since: Nov 21, 2006
Posted on: December 25, 2011 11:52 am
 

No need to 'answer the bell' after good hits

I really don't see the problem with it.  No one is forcing these guys to respond to guys trying to pick a fight with them after a big hit.  In this instance the instigator rule actually does what it was intended to do.  What's better then landing a huge hit.  Followed by a guy getting 2 mins for trying to pick a fight with you after your clean hit.



Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: December 24, 2011 8:06 pm
 

No need to 'answer the bell' after good hits

Kron going in backwards and leaving his feat wasn't dirty, it was gutless. Try that in Boston and see where it gets you Kron!

Where would it get Kronwall if he does that in Boston?  Playing the point on the PP, that's where it would get him. 

I actually like Boston and LOVE how in my opinion they raped Burke ( a gm I don't like) in that Kessel trade.  But that being said I'm just sick and tired of people like you making Boston seem like the big bad tough boys of the NHL.  

They get to the finals and win one cup for the first time in God knows how long and suddenly the Boston talk gets crazy....  



Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: December 24, 2011 5:02 pm
 

No need to 'answer the bell' after good hits

My solution for this. If a player targets another player after a non penalized hit . The attacking player will be assessed a 5 minute penalty.
So lets use the Kronwall play for our example.
Kesler was ticked , his teammates who may not have even seen the hit, just saw him on the ice , didnt know what happened for sure. But they want to protect their teammate . So they go after the , in their view offending player .

Dirty, not dirty. If the Ref didnt have his hand in the air making a penalty call, assume it was a clean hit .

If you think it was still dirty and should have had a penalty called . Watch the tape in the dressing room between periods. Decide for your self if it needed any addressing . Then retaliate if you see fit .

Kesler could have tried to cool off a little bit and kept Kronwall in his sights the rest of the game for pay back. By way of an equally clean hit , if the oppurtunity presented itself . I do somewhat agree about the machismo factor coming in nowadays .

It worked out for Vancouver here , with the team being fired up and getting a quick short handed goal. But I would think it usually has the opposite effect and fires up the hitters team .



Since: Jul 3, 2007
Posted on: December 24, 2011 3:57 pm
 

No need to 'answer the bell' after good hits

Feeling like a douche because you got blown up is never a reason to fight in hockey. However, being a douche and starting one anyway doesn't mean something needs fixing in the game. The players are real people, after all, spoiled and self-absorbed like the rest of us. Current trends in hockey reflect current trends off the ice, too. If someone "gets one over on you", people tend to want revenge, even if it was fair or deserved.



Since: Feb 10, 2009
Posted on: December 24, 2011 3:04 pm
 

No need to 'answer the bell' after good hits

Cutter I think one point here is that all the useless fighting after so many big hits (often clean ones) is actually detering hitting and fighting more than anything else in the rules

I agree with this, you know how much I love the fights but going at it w someone after a clean hit isnt the best play. I think because were not actually on the ice when these things happen that many of the 'fights from big hits' may also be because afforementioned player may have seen his teammate on the ice and didnt actually see the hit but when in doubt they react


  If a guy has to fight everytime he makes a big hit, it's going to take hitting out of the game more than any rule change.

not anymore than the 15 linesman and refs along with so many of the rules in todays game have. the rules and on ice clowns have hampered that more than anything




I don't think Stubits called for an end to fighting or hitting.

maybe not in those exact words but your a pretty smart guy Bob and you know where he is going with his articles. hes written 2 in the last week regarding the physical play and the fighting and I thought both were terrible. You know Im stubborn on this topic but Ive seen better attempts at swaying peoples opinion by people that arent getting paid by CBS and thats pretty pathetic


The players themselves are ruining the advantages of physical play on their own in more and more circumstances.


I dont see it that way at all. I think some of the crap rules and over zealous-trying to make an impression refs have done muchmore in that regard than the players ever will

More stringent enforcement (I think the enforcement is extremely lenient) of the instigator rule will limit some of the useless fighting after a clean hit.  


the 'instigator' doesnt get thrown out as much as it used to I thik because it was the flavor of the week more in previous yeras. Much in the same way goalie obstruction and diving were in the past. but I will say if it gets any more stringent Bettman will ahve to look into implementing pink dresses for the players and then atleast fans will know what to expect from the product they paid their hard earned money for



Since: Oct 27, 2006
Posted on: December 24, 2011 3:00 pm
 

No need to 'answer the bell' after good hits

If Kronwall lays that hit on one of the Sedins, then maybe you have to drop the gloves with him but Kesler is NOT a star player he would have done the same thing to a guy with his head down, Bieksa is one to talk as later in the game he elbowed one of the Red Wings in the head and wasnt given a penalty. The Kronwall hit was clean, and Kesler just felt like an idiot because he was caught  admiring his skate laces. A dirty hit needs to be answered with a fight, a clean hit should be left alone.



The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com