Proteau’s Blog: Goon-a-go-go

• It seems like we’re getting a “death of the goon”-type story once a week these days. This time, poor Georges Laraque is practically beside his large self at the very real, very welcome fact that one-trick thugs such as Ottawa’s Brian McGrattan are an endangered species.

“I’m depressed about it because I sympathize with the guys who do my job,” Laraque told the Canadian Press.

No word on whether Laraque sent sympathy cards to smaller, supremely-skilled players who couldn’t get NHL jobs in the 1990s because designated punchers were parked in their roster spaces.

I digress. Back to the bellyaching:

“They may start with fighting and then say no hitting, and then no touching at all,” said Sharks enforcer Scott Parker. “Where will it end?”

Ah yes, the slippery slope argument, the last vestige of the truly desperate. It’s normally restricted these days to political campaigns and opening submissions from Law & Order prosecutors, but kudos to Parker for expanding its sphere of attempted influence.

Where will it really end, Scott? With more entertaining games. With players who intimidate through skills, not scare tactics. And with the same mindset that other leagues apply to fighting – you know, the one where it is regarded as a highly offensive action worthy of severe suspension, regardless of how often the perpetrator had highly offended before. The horror!

• Tough break for the Predators, who have lost only once in regulation this month: they’ll be without the services of Jason Arnott until early January thanks to arthroscopic surgery on the center’s knee.

Lucky for them, only seven of the 20 games they have remaining this calendar year come against opponents with an above-.500 record right now. Just another reason to love playing in the Central “I Can’t Believe It’s Not A” Division.

• Brendan Shanahan’s torrid goal-scoring streak continues, with the Rangers winger potting his league-leading 17th of the year last night in New York’s 4-0 win over Carolina.

If he stays healthy, Shanahan should easily break the 50-goal mark this season. The better question is, can he hit 60? 70? I’m not betting against it.

• Blue Jackets interim head coach Gary Agnew offered some stunning insights into Columbus’ many problems yesterday.

“If you’re giving up seven or eight goals a night, it’s probably defense (you need to improve),” he told the Columbus Dispatch. “If you’re giving up five or six power play goals, you need work on the penalty kill.”

Be sure to look for Agnew’s new book, “Master Of The Obvious: How I Took A Bunch Of Words, Added Some Punctuation and Made A Book”, at a store near you.

I understand the appeal of sensationalism, but Adam Proteau should have something better to do than pick on a decent coach in an impossible situation. His quote from Gary Agnew’s after-game presser was completely out of context. Proteau used Agnew’s words to make him sound ridiculous when in fact Agnew had a valid point. Agnew was referring to the fact that the Jackets’ problem was not easy to solve. The problem was with heart and effort, not the defense or the PK. The Jackets have enough problems without Proteau making Agnew’s job any tougher.
– Dewayne Curry

Adam, has anyone thought of asking Shanny why it’s so much easier to score in the Eastern Conference than the Western? It’s not like the guy wasn’t playing on some star-studded rosters in years prior to his current torrid pace. Perhaps playing on a team that doesn’t bother much with defensive systems has something to do with it? Just thought I’d ask.
– Barbara Stephenson

READ ALSO:  Rookie Sean Monahan symbolic of Calgary's bright future

Laraque’s statement must be music to your ears. Without actually saying you’re anti-fighting, you do a good job of making it fairly clear which side of the fence you’re on. Hockey is a game of speed, skill AND aggression. Whether you like it or not. We do not need a ballet on ice. This is Canada’s version of the NFL, and we need it because it defines us as a people. We are Canadian, are you?
– Cam Choscinski

So now you have to pick on the goons. Nice, why not just kick a guy when he is down. Yes the one-dimensional players should be going, going, gone. However your undertone of fighting should be gone is a joke. THIS IS HOCKEY, a tough sport and one that fighting has always been a part of. It need not happen much, but if you want European hockey then watch it. It is not nearly as exciting as North American. I do not want to see the game go soft. Insinuating fighting should be banned just makes you sound like a mouthpiece for the league front office. While the bunch in New York has done good for the game, they have done a lot of bad by tampering with the tradition. They continue to try to force it down the throats of the NASCAR crowd who, by the way, don’t care and won’t care, ever. One of the things I love about hockey is its rich tradition and how it is celebrated. The boys in New York keep stripping the game of its rich traditions in the name of making it more like the NBA. Sad, sad, sad. I will leave you with the ever popular we can agree to disagree, but please stop sounding like Gary Bettman and company are writing your columns.
– Rich Evans

I find it entertaining that so many people seem to think that because “THIS IS HOCKEY” fighting should be an inherent part of the game. Look at the NFL. That is as violent a sport as any and yet, no fighting. It is what hockey should strive for: A fast, physical sport without needless violence.
– James Harris

Hey, this is just a blog, basically a journal or dairy, so I think you can say whatever you want here, and it’s cool reading what you think. I disagree with your view on eliminating fighting altogether, but I like the way fighters are losing out to more balanced players like Chris Neil. Part of the entertainment of fighting comes if it doesn’t happen all the time. It’s an interesting topic, even more so when you feel so strongly about it. How about a pole, “Do you enjoy fights in the NHL?” yes or no?
– Alex Sinclair

Hockey is a fast and rough game and the ultimate player is one who can intimidate with skill and physical aggression. A player who can score and punch your lights out. I agree there is no place for the “goon”, but as long as their is physical contact, fisticuffs will be part of the game.
– Kris Smith