Minnesota Wild tough guy Derek Boogaard is hosting a "fight camp" in his home province of Saskatchewan. His wingman, and sparring partner in this case, is his brother Aaron Boogaard, who recently signed a free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
You could imagine how well this is going over with the "soccer mom" NHL fans. Some journalists are calling for the National Hockey League to fine Derek, saying this is bad for hockey. These types of fans seem to think they are the majority, believing that fighting has no place in hockey and that a camp teaching kids how to do it is simply atrocious.
Sorry folks, you're wrong.
Derek himself has said in an interview that the camp isn't being held to teach kids how to hurt his opponent. Instead, the goal of the camp is to teach aspiring players how to fight should the situation come up. When Derek was 17 playing junior hockey in western Canada, he had his jaw broken in a fight. He claims this camp is in existence to teach the kids how to protect themselves.
So those who claim this camp is an awful idea, ponder this: Your 15 year old son on the ice playing, and he buries a kid in the corner with a clean check. Another player on the opposing team comes to his defense and gets your son to drop the gloves with him. Your son proceeds to get his block knocked off because he didn't know a proper technique in which to position himself in a fight, grapple with an opponent, and how to throw a good punch on skates. Would you have rather had your son learn a few things about fighting in hockey? I sure would. And before anyone responds with something like "I'd make sure my son knew it was wrong to fight, and he'd never do that", remember that fighting is part of hockey. Period.
Plus, let's be real here. If your kid is over six feet tall and plays the game well, knowing how to fight is a big bonus. So as much as some want to believe fighting shouldn't exist in hockey, scouts notice who can and can't fight. If two kids are equally talented, but one can throw fists with the best of them, the kid who can dance is regarded higher than the kid who cannot. That's just the way it is.
On a similar note, it seems that teams are stocking up a bit on enforcers. GMs across the league saw what the Anaheim Ducks did with their extremely tough lineup. I guess it's safe to say that the message has been received:
The Carolina Hurricanes signed two heavyweights early on during this off season's free agency period, inking Trevor Gillies and Wade Brookbank... The New York Islanders inked Kip Brennan and Darryl Bootland... The Buffalo Sabres retained the services of Andrew Peters with a new 2-year deal... The Atlanta Thrashers resigned Eric Boulton... The Boston Bruins signed Shawn Thornton... The Phoenix Coyotes resigned Josh Gratton... The New York Rangers obtained Mitch Fritz... The Calgary Flames retained Eric Godard with a one-way deal... The New Jersey Devils rewarded Cam Janssen with a 3-year deal, rumored to be one-way... The Dallas Stars signed Todd Fedoruk... The Minnesota Wild resigned Derek Boogaard to a multi-year deal... The Pittsburgh Penguins signed Aaron Boogaard to potentially compliment Georges Laraque... The Nashville Predators resigned Darcy Hordichuk... The Edmonton Oilers signed Ryan Flinn and T.J. Reynolds... The San Jose Sharks signed Brad Norton and Brennan Evans...
Obviously not all of these players will make opening night rosters. In fact, a good number of them will be with their respective American Hockey League affiliates.
One team with a glaring hole in the enforcer slot is the Philadelphia Flyers hockey club. Riley Cote and Triston Grant will press for the job, but both are undersized and may be incapable of tangling with conference heavyweights like Andrew Peters, Georges Laraque, Colton Orr and Brian McGrattan. Then of course they'll play against some extremely tough enforcers out west.
One interesting free agent is winger Sean McMorrow. He signed for the 06-07 season with the Chicago Wolves (AHL), but never saw playing time with the enormous success of the Wolves initial lineup. He eventually signed in the LNAH, a tough, old time hockey type of league in Quebec, for the rest of the season. He is very capable of tangling with the toughest guys in the NHL, as he did so in the AHL with the Rochester Americans for 4 seasons. His skating ability is that of most in his role, but it has improved dramatically over his pro career. If Kip Brennan, Trevor Gillies and Ryan Flinn are still getting NHL 2-way deals, you'd think McMorrow would be able to as well.
All for now, thanks for reading...