Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Idiot of the Day: Paul Stewart

by Jes

Paul Stewart, the former enforcer and popular (with the players) ex-referee had some choice comments about the Chris Pronger situation.

His thinking: Pronger wouldn't have gone all stompy if the game had more enforcers and he wouldn't have to protect himself. Uh-huh

You might expect a referee to have pretty keen insight into the situation, but Stewart ends up sounding more like an old codger like Donald Cherry than anything.

Stewart, the director of officials for the NCAA's Eastern Conference, told Hockey Night In Canada Radio on Sirius late Monday that the incident is a direct result of the NHL's desire to reduce fighting and, in turn, eliminate the role of the enforcer.

"It is sort of childish the way that he stomped on the guy," Stewart said. "Would [Jean] Beliveau have done that?

"I don't think so because they had No. 22 playing for them — God rest his soul, John Ferguson — and players knew they weren't going to take allowances with them."

Stewart believes the enforcer plays a key role in the NHL because "if you run [Sidney] Crosby or if you run [Alexander] Ovechkin or if you run, sadly, a Patrice Bergeron, you have to face a guy.

"[Wayne] Gretzky had [Marty] McSorley and he had [Dave] Semenko. Nowadays, they're trying to outlaw these guys."

Let's chop this up like spinach ...

1. Does Chris Pronger not have any 'protection' in Anaheim? Brad May, George Parros, Travis Moen ... Anaheim is not lacking with pugilistic talent. The fact that anyone could think Pronger is in any danger is akin to believing we actually live in a true democracy. Pure garbage.

2. If anyone needed protecting, it was Ryan Kesler, who was lying on the ice in a prone position for Pronger to stomp on his leg.

3. Remember when the Blues had Kelly Chase and Tony Twist? Even then, Pronger was cheap and vicious with his stick.

Oh, and this Paul Stewart gem is delicious.
Asked when he noticed the shift away from on-ice enforcers, Stewart responded: "The culture changed when the helmets went on, when the glass went up, when the goaltenders went out back of the net and started playing the puck with an expectation of not being confronted."
Yeah, let's go back to not wearing helmets and having a whole bunch of fractured skulls. Just ask Norm Green how that feels.

Paul Stewart ... what a moron.

Hockey isn't suddenly more violent now that enforcers' roles have drastically been reduced. Yes, stick fouls 'appear' to be increasing, but that doesn't excuse Chris Pronger or Chris Simon from committing one of hockey's ultimate no-no's.

If the NHL really wants to crack down on vicious and violent fouls, then the suspension system needs to be revamped, opened up, and harsher. The reason Pronger does what he does is because he knows he can get away with it. Do you think a 2-3 game suspension for a check from behind is going to deter anyone? No.

Start handing out 25-30 game suspensions and you'll see the cheap crap start to fade away.

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What a joke. What does Stewart want? A return to the glory days of tomahawk chops on bare heads, like the the O6 era? Or how about the Broad Street Bullies v. 1.0 of the 70s? Does he really want knuckle-dragging thugs like Marty McSorley taking up valuable air in an NHL arena?

None of those guys would deter Chris Pronger. The guy's a tower with no natural enemy. Simply having an enforcer in the lineup wouldn't stop someone as patently violent as Pronger just like it wouldn't stop a donkey like Steve Downie. Does Stewart really think someone like Chris Simon would think, "gee they have an enforcer, I'd better not blow my top"?

The fact is this: Stewart's enforcers wouldn't stop anyone from doing what they want. They would just make it permissible because at best the hitter would have to face an enforcer and once that fight ends, it'd all be okay. Eye for an eye. That's the NHL way. Or at least, stomp/cross check/headshot/knee-on-knee/boarding for the bare-knuckle interpretive dance so many NHL fights turn out to be.

That's a nice trade-off for the guy unconscious in the corner, eh? Five minutes later, both the enforcer and the perpetrator are back on the ice, asking each other about their kids at the faceoff dot, while the other guy is on the way to the hospital.

In today's NHL (or any iteration of it), fights are good for two things: 1) to spark your team (Aaron Downey's "If I time this right and win, the guys'll get fired up"), 2) to gain B-grade retribution for B-grade hits (the "you don't hit our stars that hard even if it was a legal hit" deal).

A fight for any hit nastier than your average board rattler is hollow at best. The enforcer can feel good about himself when he tells his teammate in the hospital, "Yeah, I got him buddy - two glancing right hooks and then I pulled him down with me when I fell. Then I really talked some smack to him as we played our shifts for the rest of the game. Oh yeah, how's your head? Does it feel any better now that you know I bruised two of my knuckles for you?"

The recent increase in violence in the game is not a reason to bring back the mouth breathing goon. If anything, it's justification for more stringent rules about injury-causing or otherwise excessively nasty/dangerous hits.

The last thing the NHL needs is a bunch of talentless nobodies earning 2:00 in ice time under the cap system.
I think what Paul Stewart meant to say was the instigator rule needs to go as it is now. Give 'em an extra 2 but don't kick them out of the game. The role of the enforcer needs to be reinstated as it was.

I'd rather side with a veteran referee and Don Cherry.
pretty much agree with you. i think the main thing that needs to happen is not necessarily enormous 'statement' suspensions, but just very consistent ones. for example if it was an automatic 10 games for certain dirty plays (sucker punching, for example)then a player will think twice. If the suspension is usually 1-3 games with occassional spikes, well that's useless. My suggestion is consistent suspensions for specific actions, intentional or not, (maybe with additional games for anything deemed intent to injure as opposed to just carelessness).
The next step is for a suspended player to still occupy a roster spot. GMs will be less likely to tacitly encourage marginal players from knee capping the opposition if the team as a whole suffers.
To summarize:
consistent black and white suspensions
suspended players take up a roster spot
suspended player salaries still count against the cap (not sure if this is the case right now or not)
the team is also fined when a player is suspended
It might make more sense to talk to *Ted* Green about broken skulls then to Norm Green.
I challenge anyone to provide empirical evidence that the instigator rule, as is suggested by hotdog88gt, Paul Stewart, Don Cherry, among others, has any connection whatsoever to the alleged rise in violence in hockey.

I figure I have about 40 years left on this planet. I'll check back periodically to see if anyone comes up with something. Good luck.
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