October 14, 2011
Given the number of lengthy suspensions already meted out in the Ontario Hockey League, one wonders how long Greg Ireland will be off the Owen Sound Attack bench. The Attack's first-year coach has been suspended as he awaits a league hearing to determine his role in little-used right wing Daniel Zweep hopping on the ice to fight Peterborough's Derek Mathers just eight seconds after the opening faceoff on Thursday.
As you can see from the image and TV Cogeco Peterborough's video, the Attack's left wing — Mike Halmo and Arturs Gavrus started on the wings — skated to the visitors' bench on the far side right off the draw to make way for Zweep. A scrap ensued. That's exactly the kind of action OHL commissioner David Branch frowns upon.
From the Attack:
Ireland has been suspended indefinitely by the Ontario Hockey League and will participate in a conference call on Monday, which will determine if his suspension will be carried out further. Ireland , who is in his first season with the Attack was deemed by the OHL to have sent Zweep onto the ice surface at the time of the altercation with Mathers. (OHL)
One can only wonder how heavy a hammer Branch will use on Monday. The commissioner has not come out publicly in favour of banning fighting, but he has made a note of pointing out the league has been proactive about reducing staged fights.
No doubt some will wonder why Mathers and Petes coach Mike Pelino were not sanctioned. One explanation is the visiting team, by league rule, submits its starting lineup before the hosts. It's possible the Petes were trying to keep Mathers away from Zweep. Each is among the league's early-season leaders in fighting majors, but Mathers' deal is similar to Spokane Chiefs captain to Darren Kramer, fighting-in-junior's poster boy. Mathers also got noticed last season by far and away leading his league in fighting majors and that helped him become a late-round pick, going 206th overall to the Philadelphia Flyers. Now he's trying to show he can earn his keep as a player and pick his spots to fights. There are times when fighting is necessary, but eight seconds into the game is totally unnecessary, which is why Ireland could be suspended for a while.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports . Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (video, image: TV Cogeco Peterborough.