NHL Sends Controversial Message by Promoting Evgeni Malkin's Fight

Jason SapunkaCorrespondent IIOctober 9, 2011

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 27:  Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins warms up prior to the NHL preseason game against the Los Angeles Kings on September 27, 2011 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Visit NHL.com today and try to understand what type of physical play the league is attempting to promote.

Below headlines regarding Peter Forsberg's banner night, a Philadelphia Flyers roster move, the Toronto Maple Leafs' win, a hit by Dion Phaneuf, there is a link to Evgeni Malkin's most recent fight.

Malkin, a former Art Ross winner for the Pittsburgh Penguins, became involved in a fight with Curtis Glencross during a game against the Calgary Flames on October 8, 2011.

At the 15:03 mark of the second period, play was stopped when Calgary's Lee Stempniak was called for slashing. After the whistle, Malkin skated to Glencross and pushed him from the side as Glencross skated forward with his head down.

Glencross turned to face Malkin, and hit Malkin's left ankle with his stick. Malkin then pushed Glencross. Glencross dropped his stick and gloves, grabbing Malkin.

Glencross threw one punch at Malkin before two linesman attempted to break up the scrum. The first linesman to arrive, Don Henderson (No. 91), faced Glencross and put an arm between the two players.

Malkin threw a one-gloved punch at Glencross as the other linesman, Lonnie Cameron (No. 74), arrived to help break up the scuffle. Malkin's glove came off and he threw four punches.

Henderson pulled Glencross away and Cameron pulled Malkin away, ending the fight. Malkin and Glencross received two-minute minor penalties for roughing.

The NHL decided not only to host a video of the fight, but link to it on their main page as well. The link is even written in bold, which further draws viewers to the headline.

This seems to mean at least one league representative wants site visitors to see this fight. Someone involved with the NHL believes this is the right type of action to promote.

Recent changes to rules 41 and 48 were implemented with aims to make hockey a safer game. Head hits and boarding plays, generally regarded as "cheap" actions, are being scrutinized heavily.

Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's leader of supplemental discipline, shows very little tolerance for such hits, handing out a multitude of suspensions already this season.

Shanahan even went as far as to introduce a collection of "good decision plays," in order to show what type of hits the NHL does allow and promote.

If the NHL wants the game to be cleaner and safer, it should not be inviting viewers to witness a player trying to punch someone while linesmen attempt to break up the fight.

Glencross did not attempt to throw any punches once the linesmen started breaking up the fight, Malkin did.

NHL.com is making a poor decision by promoting Malkin's actions.

On the very same day, the reigning Hart Trophy winner (awarded to the league's most valuable player), Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks, fought Brandon Dubinsky of the New York Rangers.

During the fight, Perry fell to the ground with Dubinsky on top of him. The men stopped throwing punches and waited for the linesmen to come in and separate them.

What Perry and Dubinsky did was end their fight in a manner that showed respect for each-other. They didn't take advantage of a defenseless opponent.

The NHL should embrace the physicality and passion of hockey, but not by showing a scorer get away with taking cheap shots.