It all started with Jonathan Roy's assault on Bobby Nadeau last spring during the QMJHL playoffs. I don't think I have to remind what happened, from the attack to the episode of "the finger." Gracious, really gracious.
There was no way it would have gone without consequences, especially with Patrick Roy involved. It is time to wake up, people. The NHL legend will get the attraction for us, we have to get it covered. The time is now for whatever decision we want to take; we can't miss this.
And they did not miss it.
First campaign, abolish fighting in the Junior League of Quebec. The Minister of Sports had a very convincing speech that I remember made my week back at the time, "I am among those who believe it won't reduce the interest for hockey."
I bet if she says it again, it will still stun me like the first time!
Then Georges Laraque got the award of the very much appreciated sarcasm of the year, "The QMJHL will change to the League of Ballet Dancers of Quebec and the Maritimes!"
Laraque 1, Quebec Minister of Sports 0!
Fighting has been part of Hockey even before my great-great-grand parents had their first kiss. There is no one in the entire NHL who has no notion whatsoever of a real game brawl. It is tradition. And we don't erase tradition.
And jeez, they even have a hat trick named after that! You don't get the Gordie Howe hat trick if you don't fight. If you don't get your hands dirty, people simlpy call it a two-point game! Anybody can get a two point game; you won't even make the highlights of the night.
I had nightmares thinking about those young men coming to the big league facing OHL graduates, facing Laraque, Eager. It might be better to be a member of the skate-sharpening staff. And still, they might get hurt.
But, my fellow sports fans, it is with great pleasure that I report to you today that the circuit won't abolish fights. There are still real hockey amateurs in there, I believe.
General Managers and Governors have reportedly agreed that fighting itself is not the real problem to deal with. And once again, Madame la Ministre, with all respect, it wasn't even a fight.
More severe sanctions will be surely applied to players involved in much exaggerated "explosion of emotions." But an one-on-one classic glove-dropping between two consenting players should not be completely abolished. Thank God.
It is about renewing a rivalry, the team spirit, even the way a game goes.
The QMJHL press conference will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 10 at 11 a.m.
I'll get back to you.