Sportress of Blogitude

Flyers VP Bob Clarke’s Solution To Curtail Head Injuries: More – Not Less – Fighting

Damn straight, although not surprising that the person who holds this opinion would have had the mug pictured above during his playing days. One hasn’t had to pay too much attention to the NHL in recent history to understand that the dramatic increase in head injuries is developing into something of a plague for the NHL, marring what should be a glorious time for the league, given the unparalleled thrill and unequaled excitement of the league’s playoffs, especially this season’s version of them. Bob Clarke, currently the senior vice president of the Philadelphia Flyers and a member of the infamous “Broad Street Bullies” of the 1970s, is only the latest in a long line of people who have forgotten a helluva lot more about hockey than many of us will ever know to make the argument that the curtailing and crackdown on fighting has led to a surge in head injuries in the NHL. And in an argument as old as the rule itself, Clarke pins a majority of the blame on the oft-debated worth of the Instigator Rule aspect of the NHL’s official rules regarding fighting and how it might be doing more harm than good in the NHL.

Via Sporting News:

“These players now have no fear of what they do on the ice, because their opponents can’t get even,” Clarke said, according to

“We’ve always had one player or two on a team who’s been a fighter. But now every team wants a player like a (Patrick) Kaleta, a (Daniel) Carcillo, a (Matt) Cooke, who can hurt someone,” Clarke said. “Those guys have become more valuable than fighters.”

And to ratchet up the amount of goodwill I – and anyone else who appreciates the integrity of the sport and its grand tradition – feel for Clarke, he also takes a partial shot at the effectiveness of Colin Campbell, the NHL’s all-powerful discipline czar, and his role in the mess:

“Campbell is the judge, jury and executioner,” Clarke said. “And it’s not working. It’s a total failure what Colie is trying to do.

“I don’t think I’m old-school thinking; I’m hockey thinking. Players are supposed to take care of their own. When I was managing, I didn’t want Colin Campbell taking care of my team. We’ll do it ourselves. It’s the worst thing the league has ever done, putting Campbell in charge of all this stuff, because now teams can’t take care of their own. And more players are getting hurt all the time.”

Preach. Let the players police themselves and goons like Matt Cooke will be much less willing to go headhunting. But if the Instigator Rule were rescinded and guys of his ilk nevertheless elected to continue with their hamfisted goonery, there would be an instantaneous – and egregious – dose of comeuppance headed their way, courtesy of some gifted – and much needed – pugilist’s fist. That’s the way it was back in the glory days of the league and how it should be now.

Clarke’s solution for curbing head injuries? More fighting [Sporting News]