Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli wasn’t shy about his feelings about fighting’s place in the National Hockey League at the GM’s meeting Tuesday.
“I’m for it, I think it’s deep-rooted in the game,” the Boston GM said via ESPN. “I think it acts as a deterrent.”
“Listen, we’re the Bruins, we’ve got guys who can fight, I like the way we’ve built our team. I think our fans appreciate it, too.”
As a shot caller for the Boston Bruins, an Original Six team, Chiarelli can clearly speak to tradition when it comes to fighting in hockey. He says that, while he is “fully cognizant” of the risks posed to players via head injury and other concerns, fighting is still an important component to the game. That doesn’t mean precautions can’t be put in place for player safety.
“I’m certainly amenable to talking about further regulation of it.”
The Boston Bruins have the fifth-most fighting majors in the NHL so far this season with 13, according to the statisticians at Hockeyfights.com (wonder where they stand on the issue?). The Bruins started the 2013-14 campaign off with two heavyweight bouts on opening night against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning. Boston favorite Shawn Thornton dropped the gloves with Pierre-Cedric Labrie while Bruins newcomer Jarome Iginla, no stranger to fighting either, took on Tampa Bay’s Radko Gudas. While Iginla was said to have gotten the best of Gudas at home in Boston, the site’s voters gave Gudas the edge in the rematch 16 days later when the Bruins traveled to Tampa Bay. Boston’s Gregory Campbell also took on the Lightning’s B.J. Crombeen and Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid fought Tampa Bay’s Nate Thompson.
As Chiarelli said, his Boston team is built for fighting. While there’s no shortage of scoring talent on the Bruins roster—how else do you make it to the Stanley Cup Finals twice in three years?—there is plenty of pugilistic power as well. In addition to those already mentioned, the current Boston lineup also features scrappy Milan Lucic and the towering Bruins captain, Zdeno Chara, who doesn’t drop the gloves too often but, at one point, was voted the fourth-toughest fighter in the league in a Sports Illustrated poll of 272 players.
The Boston Bruins boast tons of toughness, and, as they nip at the Lightning’s heels for the lead in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division, don’t expect the fireworks to slow down anytime soon.
What do you think of the Bruins’ season so far? Who is the Boston Bruins toughest fighter? With Steven Stamkos injured against Boston, can the Bruins overtake the Lightning for control of the division?