“There is a different mentality in the game. The guy on the fourth line whose only job is to fight is being replaced by a little guy who will run around and agitate the other team...”
—Former Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman in the Oct. 24 edition of The Hockey News
Kudos to Steve Yzerman for saying what every true hockey fan has known the past year and a half: fighting needs to be brought back in the “new NHL.”
As a staple of the Red Wings for 22 years, Yzerman was known for many things, including his scoring touch, unmatched work ethic, and loyalty to his organization.
Beyond these attributes, however, he was known as a leader. Like any leader, Yzerman recognizes the components needed for a championship hockey team, one of which is an enforcer.
Gone are the days when brawlers like Bob Probert and Dave Semenko patrolled the ice and ensured stars like Yzerman could showcase his talents unimpeded.
Instead, legendary enforcers of the past have been replaced by the likes of Sean Avery and Matthew Barnaby, players who claim to be “tough” but hustle to the bench when gloves hit the ice.
Hopefully, Yzerman’s comments will motivate officials within the NHL to relax the rules a little and revive this dying breed. Then again, with Gary Bettman at the helm, don’t expect too much headway on this issue.