Skip to comments.Hockey fighting flares emotions - on both sides
Posted on 10/19/2005 10:17:59 PM PDT by RWR8189
DIMONDALE - Can we all agree that the coach-ordered fistfighting Bob McClean believes he witnessed at The Summit ice arena last week is a bad thing?
Gordon Allington has no objection to it. His 17-year-old son, Chase Allington, plays in the local Capital Centre Pride league. The kid says he fights when the coach says "fight."
The father accepts it as an occupational hazard. Calling Tuesday from Wasilla, Alaska, he said: "They must learn how to protect themselves. It's a way to get the kids to the next level."
Al Harris agrees. He lives in East Lansing and has two sons - 11 and 17 - who play hockey. In an e-mail responding to Tuesday's column, Harris wrote:
"In my opinion, the parents of these high-caliber players brought their kids to this coaching staff in order to prepare them for hockey at the next level."
He added: "Regardless of how it looks, these players were learning to protect themselves and their teammates in a sport that condones physical confrontation."
As I wrote Tuesday, McClean, a retired cop who lives in Dimondale, was watching his grandson play at The Summit, in Dimondale, on Oct. 11, when he saw something that filled him with disgust.
He called it "orchestrated brutality."
As McClean described the scenario, a coach at a practice session of teenage hockey players ordered the kids to drop their gloves and helmets, and fight each other, one on one. He said he witnessed four or five fights, which left several kids bloodied.
Debi Haigh of Eagle, at The Summit with her 9-year-old daughter, said she saw the same thing McClean saw.
"I was stunned," Haigh said. "One boy took a heck of a beating. He skated to the side holding his nose and wiping tears."
Based on McClean's account and a preliminary review, Jim Cain, who runs both The Summit and the league, suspended an unnamed coach while he investigates.
"We have reason to believe fighting occurred," Cain said, adding that such conduct violates rules of both the league and USA Hockey, the governing body of amateur hockey in the United States.
Also, George Atkinson of the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association said Tuesday that his group will "get to the bottom" of the incident.
"We certainly do not condone the type of behavior described in your article," Atkinson said.
Speaking theoretically, Eaton County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sauter said a coach who encourages minors to engage in assault could face misdemeanor charges.
Parents feel stymied
Clearly, some parents of players who know about the fighting don't like it, but they feel paralyzed by their sons' hockey ambitions.
I heard from two women who identified themselves as mothers of two of the players on the team in question.
One of the mothers said her son suffered a concussion and three loose teeth in one of the "practice fights." The other mother said her son was forced to fight his best friend.
But neither had filed a complaint, and both were adamant about not being publicly identified.
Why? They offered identical motives: Their sons begged them not to do or say anything that would threaten their standing on the team and their future in hockey.
Their reasoning went like this: The boys struggled through the ranks to become part of an elite team in the Pride league. Being linked to an official complaint would subject a player to being shunned, at best, and possible retaliation.
Said one mother: "If it ever got out that he complained, his days of playing serious hockey would be over."
that is ridiculous, late hits, punches away from the puck constitute unsportsmanlike conduct and avoiding that doesn't promote sissification in the slightest. as my husband always tells my son, beat everyone to the puck and you won't have to be doing the hitting, let THEM get the penalty calls because you are there FIRST. excellent hockey doesn't require thuggish behavior in the slightest.
I don't want to get into the whole "fighting in hockey" debate, but I'll agree that a youth hockey coach who orchestrates fights in practice has no place behind the bench
RWR...thanks for the ping on this one.
Freep mail/ping airborne or Hat-Trick if you want on or off the Hockey Ping List.
Ned Braden: What are you doing?
Jeff Hanson: Puttin' on the foil!
Steve Hanson: Every game!
Jack Hanson: Want some?
Exactly, and excellent advice. You can't hit what you can't catch.
Maybe Shanny or Chelios should dance with this jerk at center ice so he can show what a tough guy he really is.
I'm sure that more than a few hockey people would pay to see that.
if the thugs put half the effort into SKATING that they put into fighting, there wouldn't be fights. : ) the thugs are generally the ones with the least hockey ability, it seems to me.
Any coach who instructs a 17 year old to fight should not be a coach!
I am an accredited USA Hockey coach and referee and can state for a fact that the actions of this coach are not sanctioned.
There is absolutely no place for fighting in USA Hockey games or practices. It is absolutely banned. When seen, it is punished severely, usually with an immediate game misconduct and a subsequent game suspension, or more.
Thanks for the ping Hat-Trick,
I agree with most posters here, fighting has no place in a "YOUTH" league, semi-pros and up should be allowed to mix it up because if they don't learn how to "defend" themselves from cheap or dirty shots/hits, their career will be over in a short time.
"Ordered the kids to drop their gloves and helmets."One player suffered a concussion?I hope this "coach" has lots of liability insurance.
That is an urban myth. I have coached 16 youth teams including 1 this year. I have only had a problem once I would consider serious with a parent over that entire period.
USA Hockey and most rinks have a zero tolerance policy.
i beg to differ. my son has played travel ice hockey for the past 7 years. to date, i haven't seen any parents brawling, but there has been the potential more than once, depending on the teams. Some are worse than others.
I'm a big proponent of fighting in hockey, it's a natural outcome of the intensity of the game and the only way to truly get rid of it is to drop the intensity and make the sport itself less interesting. That being said it has no place in youth hockey, and seriously has no place in practice especially not ordered by the coach, part of the idea of practice is developing team unity and having the team fight each other isn't generally good for team unity.
In the bush leagues of rural northern Canada, the aftermath of a game often involves a major "Here comes the RCMP" brawl between fans from the visitor's town and the locals.
I almost typed 'usually' instead of 'often'.
They drop the gloves to do more damage, they actually try to keep the helmet on generally (while trying to take the other guy's helmet off) but if it gets dislodged they get rid of it because it becomes a hazard (can get in front of your eyes so you can't see, having it hanging around your neck isn't so nice in a fight either).
They'll be doing it as soon as they get to college (if they go), which last I checked is still amateur.
I have no problem with a coach teaching kids the do's and don'ts of hockey fighting, as long as it's done appropriately. Think boxing, wrestling, kung fu. I don't think "okay, you two pair up and wail on each other" is a good way to go about it.
Two words. Darren McCarty. Two more. Brendan Shanahan. They can put the puck in the net, and also put the opponents flat on their butts.
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