What's Buzzing:

Buzzing The Net

2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup: Mixed message on headshots, staged fighting?

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

View photo

.

Saint John's Grant West and Shawinigan's Vincent Arseneau tangled in a staged fight on Wednesday (The Canadian …

SHAWINIGAN, Que. — Canadian Hockey League commish David Branch, in a roundabout way, is making sure he will have more than softball questions lobbed at him during his annual state-of-the-CHL press conference on Friday.

In a season that was marked by stiff suspensions for checks to the head and musings about reducing staged fighting, well, old-school hockey has made a comeback at the tournament. Teams get fined for getting out of control, but there's often a reluctance to suspend a player from a short tournament.

From John MacKinnon:

On Thursday, the CHL fined both the Shawinigan Cataractes and Saint John Sea Dogs were fined $2,500 for a variety of on-ice shenanigans that occurred during Saint John's 4-1 victory over Shawinigan on Wednesday night.

The game ended with a couple of staged fights starting off face-offs with less than one minute remaining, but the game included a variety of cheap shots from players on both teams, bitter rivals in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Another curious point at this tournament:

CHL and Ontario Hockey League commissioner Dave Branch is a progressive on the issue of fighting and head shots in hockey. He is on record saying it is time to eliminate fighting, particularly the staged fights, from the game.

There have only been three or four fights during the tournament, but during at least two of them, the Sportsnet roving cameraman on skates has sped onto the ice to capture the action. (Edmonton Journal)

The gameday staff at Centre Bionest have also played the Rocky theme at times when altercations have broken out. Shawinigan's Vincent Arseneau has fought twice in the tournament, which is impressive coming in a span of three games.

Then there's the issue of headshots. First it was Jonathan Huberdeau's elbow to the head of London's Matt Rupert, then Vladislav Namestnikov's contact to the head of Edmonton's Klarc Wilson that ripped the visor off the right wing's helmet. Shawinigan's Jonathan Racine also got just a two-minute minor Thursday for an obvious elbow to the head on Saint John's Tomas Jurco.

Sportsnet's Patrick King wondered if there was a different if not double standard.

All three leagues under the CHL's umbrella (OHL, WHL and QMJHL) have different standards for head shots. But given their lengthy suspensions in the regular season and the supposed crackdown to eliminate hits like Namestnikov's from the game, it's truly mystifying how Namestnikov didn't at least serve two minutes.

There are many factors at play here, but if Namestnikov goes unpunished, it makes one wonder just how serious the league is with regards to eliminating head shots. This was a missed call and a missed opportunity to legitimize their claims.

Namestnikov is a star player and a valuable member of his team, which will help him escape discipline. Jonathan Huberdeau of the Sea Dogs, for example, wasn't suspended for his elbow to Knights winger Matt Rupert's head from Saturday's game. (Sportsnet, May 23)

Does the brevity of the tournament lend itself to shifting priorities? It does seem like the focus is more on a belief suspending a player from a four-game event would draconian.

Ultimately, the Memorial Cup might just be different. Each league, as King noted, makes its own rules. So the contrast might be more stark if Branch and the Ontario Hockey League go it alone on passing anti-fighting rules.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at neatesager@yahoo.ca and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

View Comments (1)
  • Be warned Chicago: Playoffs don't always reward best teams

    Be warned Chicago: Playoffs don't always reward best teams

    Winners of five straight, the Chicago Cubs are now 20 games over .500. They lead the NL Central by 6 1/2 games, and if this keeps up, the rest of the summer will be full of anticipation around Wrigley Field. … More »

    AP - Sports - 4 minutes 18 seconds ago
  • Truex Jr. dominates in Charlotte win

    Truex Jr. dominates in Charlotte win

    Martin Truex Jr. didn't avoid ladders or black cats, never worried about cracking mirrors or stepping on cracks. Especially when things have gone as wrong as they had for Truex and his single-car Furniture Row team the past year. Kevin Harvick was … More »

    AP - Sports - 31 minutes ago
  • Weekend Sports in Brief

    Bryce Dejean-Jones had a bright future in the NBA, the league commissioner said following the death of the New Orleans Pelicans guard who was shot after kicking down the door of what he mistakenly thought was his girlfriend's apartment in Dallas. … More »

    AP - Sports - 42 minutes ago
  • Venus eyes rare French quarters berth

    Venus eyes rare French quarters berth

    Five of the first 10 times Venus Williams entered the French Open, she made it to at least the quarterfinals, including a run to the final in 2002. Williams can return to the round of eight at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament for the first time … More »

    AP - Sports - 42 minutes ago
  • IndyCar hoping to carry momentum from 500 into future races

    IndyCar hoping to carry momentum from 500 into future races

    Even before Alexander Rossi sputtered across the finish line to win the Indianapolis 500, race organizers and IndyCar officials were looking to seize the momentum from the historic 100th running of the showcase event. ''It's time to take that, … More »

    AP - Sports - 43 minutes ago