Lombardi: Keep fighting in the game

Question: You’re going to the GM meetings in a couple weeks, and fighting will be a topic of discussion. When it comes up, what will you say?

LOMBARDI: “I’m absolutely, positively against taking fighting out of the game.”

Question: Are you in favor of any of these reforms, or anything?

LOMBARDI: “I’m OK with the idea that the helmet stays on.”

Question: What about the idea that you need to get rid of the “staged” fights?

LOMBARDI: “What’s a staged fight? I don’t know what that means. Is that when somebody starts talking tough to one of our skill guys and our guy says, `You want to talk to me?’ and they fight? Is that staged? I think it’s answering the bell, and saying, `Quit screwing around with our guys.’ What’s staged? So (Evgeni Artyukhin) runs Doughty and we go after Artyukhin, is that staged?

“I don’t know what that means. I’m against it anyway. If you can tell me the definition of staged, which you really can’t…but if you could, chances are I’m not against that either. You’re asking me about staged, and I don’t know what that means. When a guy runs our best player and the tough guy comes over to him, is that what you’re talking about?”

Question: Here’s another ambiguous one: the idea that the league needs to filter out guys who are just enforcers.

LOMBARDI: “Oh really? Did you see that building (Staples Center) on Saturday? What in the world are you talking about? That was a hard game, that had everything imaginable, from hitting, to the right type of fights. Obviously we came out on the wrong end, but if you’re a fan, that had everything. That’s hockey.

“And you know what? That isn’t Europe. If anyone wants to go watch some of those European games, you aren’t going to get close to the juice that was in that building Saturday, in that type of game. It was physical, it was tough, it was a man’s game. And that’s hockey. Anyone who wants to try to change this game should go to Europe for three weeks and watch those games. They’re struggling over there, because it’s like watching paint dry. There’s no question about it. They’re 2-1 games, nobody touches anybody, there’s no passion and all you get is a little razzle-dazzle skill every once in a while.

“I don’t know, for the life of me, why we want to emulate that. It’s beyond me. In that game (Saturday), you had people off their feet when, if it’s not a goal, it’s something physical. I got off track…what was the second part of that question?”

Question: About getting the `one-dimensional’ players out of the game.

LOMBARDI: “What’s a one-dimensional player? Ivan (Raitis Ivanans) can play a little. (Derek) Boogaard can play a little. (Zach) Stortini runs around and he’s physical. I don’t consider him to be just an idiot. So who is it? Donald Brashear is a pretty good player. So who’s the one-dimensional player? Just like you can’t define a staged fight, you can’t name a one-dimensional player. Who is one? (Andre) Roy from Calgary, maybe. They dressed him the other night. He’s a battleship. He played, what, two minutes? They cruise him around the pond and that’s it. They put him on the bench and he’s done. So, OK, there’s one, but I’d like to know how many of those guys there really are.”

Question: Battleship…I like that.

LOMBARDI: “That’s kind of what he looked like. They cruise him around, just to say, `OK, in case you guys start something, we’ve got him.’ `Now go sit down.”’

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  • CWW

    I think that battleship analysis is worth a fortune. I hope it gets some national press and will be on the wall the next time we play Calgary.

  • Anonymous

    Battleship. LOL.

    I wanna see some ‘You sank my…’ at the next Calgary game.

  • Nick

    Preach on brother.

    Take out fighting and then you will have guys like Matt Cooke running around with no consequences…and then some day a player will get so frustrated he will swing his stick and it will be a worse blow to the NHL than anything it has seen so far.

  • variable

    as i was reading dean’s response, it felt like he was going to get into a scrum with you for just posing the question…

    o.k. d.l….tell us how you really feel???

    it’s a man’s, man’s, man’s world still…according to d.l….put up yr dukes…!

    i wonder if he gets this excited/riled up in contract negotiations…????

    lighten up, francis…!

  • Anonymous

    God I love DL’s analogies….he cracks me up…..I need him to fight my battles….
    I do think the ‘dancing/skating around in a circle with the fists up before the fight’ is staged…at least it looks silly. That’s the issue for me. The refs should step in then. I can understand them not stepping if the fight is already in progress for safety purposes…but they need to stop the ones that haven’t started yet.

  • Old Man

    I love our diego gm.

  • 28 KINGS

    Dean is definitely old school!

  • Mitleid

    Fights are an ingrained part of the game, but there have to be limits. That last Kings game was unwatchable. Something like over 30 minutes of penalties totted up before the first period ended? Sheesh!

    If players engage in a “You wanna go?” agreed-upon bout of fisticuffs, bring it on. They know they’re both gonna incurr 5 minute majors, but those fights get the teams and the crowd pumped up.

    Finally, Gauthier’s a Hanson-style goon and the only thing keeping him from administering more elbows is the loss of pay.

  • Kevin

    When was hockey the most popular and exciting??
    Hmmm…When it was “old school”.

    Let the players decide if fighting should be a part of the game. They all know the risks of playing the game. They all know the consequences and they all know the benefits of the fight.

    Point out one player who isn’t standing up and cheering on their teammate when a fight is going on.

    Just because weasel’s, like Gary Bettman, have no sack doesn’t mean you take another thing fans(and players) cheer about away from the game.

    DL hit the nail on the head with this one. Staples Center was going freakin nuts on Saturday afternoon. FIGHTS, HITS, and GOALS.

  • TB

    …and thats how Ivanans got a contract extension last summer and lived happily ever after.

  • motalare

    Wow! You really set DL off with that one, Rich. I love that DL is so old school.

    Oh, and DL’s quote: ” (Andre) Roy from Calgary, maybe. They dressed him the other night. He’s a battleship. He played, what, two minutes? They cruise him around the pond and that’s it.”–is hilarious.

  • Anonymous

    He ripped off “Battleship” Kelly.


  • Buffalo B

    Some of the best comments Ive heard quoted since this silly witch hunt has been re-stoked. Good for Lombardi! You want people interested and watch hockey the way it’s meant to be played? Bring it back to how it was in the late 80’s. The scorers scored often, the fighters fought often, and buildings were filled and people actually cared to watch what are sometimes called “rivalries” these days. How many more times are we going to see the league tout Detroit vs. Colorado as some big meaningful rivalry complete with 10 year old clips of what made that rivalry great….tons of fights and emotion. Now days you couldnt pay me to watch that matchup. Awful.

  • Anonymous

    I just WISHED that he’d plagarize me once…

    I’m one that keeps stating that the NHL with that stupid shootout in place has in effect sissified the entire league…turning it into the Ice Capades…but with a lot less hitting… OR perhaps that’s the term that he would LOVE to use with European hockey…instead of watching it is as exciting as watching paint dry…

  • Quisp

    The flaw in the battleship analogy (or else it’s the way the analogy is actually perfect) is that there are no more active battleships. They’re all museums now. There hasn’t been a battleship in a battle in almost twenty years. A battleship hasn’t been built in over sixty. They were good as targets in atomic tests, but that’s about it.

  • Moondoggie

    Don’t you just love DL???

    I’m not sure which part I liked better, leaving fighting in the game or comparing the NHL to European hockey, “like watching paint dry”.

    Personally, I’ll take fighting and the NHL…

  • KevinC

    Buffalo B. is spot on.

    The best hockey I had ever seen was when i was a little kid watching games at the Forum in the late 80’s and early 90’s.

    My passion and love for the game comes not only from my Father and youth hockey, but also from being in that kind of environment on a regular basis.

    Some people argue that “kids” shouldn’t be exposed to fighting in hockey but I think as long as you explain what is going on and that guys are sticking up for themselves and their teammates then everything should be just fine.

  • Leatherface

    And people scoff when I say the AHL champs in any given year would smash the RSL champs (and probably the KHL champs now, too) the SM-Liga champs, Modo, and any other club team that comes their way.

    North American hockey is the life and the blood of the sport. The way its coached, the way its played, the way it’s appreciated by fans. I’ve sat through Champions League Euro games, full and complete games, and honestly almost fell asleep.


    Mr. Lombardi is building this team around the Philly model of take the game back through aggression.
    Of course he wants fighting in the game.
    Unfortunately, he doesn’t see the effect it has rippling down through society and in neighborhood rinks around North America.

    Hell. The Romans stood up and cheered as animals devoured humans for centuries, but that went the way of the Dodo after a few hundred years of “entertainment.”

    BTW, maybe the games in Europe suck because all of the talent is playing over here.
    I’ve never been to a game there, or seen one, but in pre-season of 07 some of the teams gave us a go.

    How he can support Andre Roy’s presence in a professional hockey league is a mystery to me.
    I wish Rich would have asked why Ivan plays even against the Detroits of the league. Another mystery.
    There are plenty of worthless hockey players that have graced our national Hockey league over the past 25 years, and it seems like Philly of the 70’s started an “arms race” to assault their way to victory.
    Ever since, NHL GM’s have been suckers for the lock-kneed knuckle-head that likes to punch.

    And not that it was staged, but feigning ignorance of that question just weeks after Westgarth hospitalized someone off the opening face-off just seems a bit, well, rude.

    I like DL’s players and the general ability of who he’s bringing into the club, but I just cannot shake the feeling that he’s a bit single-minded. Frolov has been playing his heart out for this crappy team for 6 years and he can barely compliment him, but Andre Roy is getting kudo’s for playing 2 minutes of a 60 minute competition because he’s a big steroided freak.

  • JDM

    Gotta love these comments.

    Specifically about the “staged” fights. This has been a big discussion here and everywhere else lately, and I love that he said you can’t call any fight “staged”.

    Really all people mean by “staged” is that the two guys discussed the fight before it happened. These are the fights off of face-offs and the ones with the merry go round first round of no punches. I have no problem with these kinds of fights, except when they don’t actually fight, but just grab eachother. Be a man, throw a punch. ‘Take a f-ing chance’ as the great George Carlin once said.

    To me, “staged” just means that one guy said “hey, you’re a loser, want me to prove it?” And the other says “oh yeah? I’d like to see you try” Then they look at eachother, and as they say, “its on”. In these fights they size eachother up because A) they are fully aware of the impending bout and B) they are trying to not miss and get knocked out. In scraps, or non-“staged” fights, this doesn’t happen because they are heat of the moment fights and neither guy is really talking to eachother or thinking about it, but just acting out purely on aggression and emotion.

    Both kinds of fights have a place in the game.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Eat,

    He’s criticizing Roy by calling him a battleship, even pointing to him as the only possible “one-dimensional” player he could think of. He doesn’t support him, he supports fighting and feels that calling fights staged is a poor arguement. Agree or disagree, but he is not supporting Roy by any means. He’s the one guy he’d actually use as support for the arguement, he just happens to see the “battleship” as an anamolly.

    He has not “barely complimented” Frolov, he gave the first insightful talk about the guy since he has been here. Frolov has not given his heart and soul, and DL did not criticize him, but he did explain why this is the case with a very intelligent reason regarding the lack of winning culture in L.A. Frolov has been streaky, but he’s finally showing some promise, and DL recognizes that.

    And lastly, the brutaltiy of animals devouring humans (slaves) does not equate with the brutality of strong men knowingly hitting each other in the NHL (very well-paid if not millionaires). This is obvious. Only a kindegaren teacher would spin that arguement and think it holds water.

  • Beavis

    ETR, what were you reading? He said that if there is a one-dimensional player in this league it’s Roy, he wasn’t supporting Roy, quite the contrary, that’s the way I read it anyway.

    “So who’s the one-dimensional player?…. you can’t name a one-dimensional player. Who is one? (Andre) Roy from Calgary, maybe.”

  • JDM


    you make it sound like Westgarth sucker punched him. The both knew they were going to fight. Percentage -wise, I’m sure stepping foot outside your house is more dangerous than a hockey fight.

  • Anonymous

    Good to see all those Saturday nights at the Coliseum made the right impression on him.

    Those were the days, eh Deano?

  • nykingfan

    Thank you DL for standing up and saying what true hockey fans feel. We like fighting as part of our game. It has been a part of the culture of hockey long before most of us started watching hockey. Old time players like Ted Lindsey, Gordie Howe, etc….
    There was no outcry to ban fighting back in those days, why now?
    I thought the Edmonton game was one of the most exciting games I’ve seen all season and yeah, fighting played a part in making it one of the most exciting games.
    Hockey has it all…skill players able to show their incredible talent…Goalies making acrobatic saves, players like Dustin Brown throwing bone crunching body checks, and 2 big guys dropping the gloves and going mano y mano. It’s all part of the game we love. Eliminating any part of the game, you run the risk of becoming another boring, unwatchable sport…like Soccer. What would happen if Dustin Brown nails a guy with a clean check and God forbid something terrible happens to the other guy? I guess the outcry will be to elimate hard body checks.
    Most…not all, but most of the voices who call for the elimination of fighting don’t watch hockey to begin with. Those people would be thrilled to see the game and the league fold.

  • someonewhocares

    I don’t like the way DL equates fighting as though it’s the only way to be physical in hockey. So all these games that don’t have fights aren’t physical I guess.

    Also, I can’t believe I’m not a “true hockey fan”. All the countless hours watching hockey, playing hockey for 20+ years to find out I’m not a true fan. What a drag. Fighting is not something I really care about, or like. I don’t get all jacked up when someone is fighting. I really do appreciate it as a way of showing heart and standing up for your team though. Kind of like a necessary evil. But it doesn’t interest me. I hate the spectacle of it, and it really pisses me off that this is the most exciting thing in hockey for a lot of people.

    That being said, I don’t think it should be removed from the game.



    Please stop with that argument. Should your neighbor get a 5 minute penalty for kicking your ass if you step on his lawn? Really, don’t use the non-logic of the fighting supporters.
    Nykingfan brings up Gordie Howe which is brilliant. A hockey legend who rarely had more then 100 or so penalty minutes in a season. Brilliant!
    True hockey fans enjoy the games of the Olympics, World Cups, WJC’s, and Stanley Cup playoffs where fighting is a rarity.
    BTW, fighting is banned in the WJC’s and those were THE most exciting games of this year to date, AND there were at least a couple fights.
    So, for all the geniuses who believe that you can actually eliminate fighting by penalizing it harshly – you need to go back to night-school and step into the 21st century.

    To the anonymous post. Since you can’t spell Kindergarten I’ll leave you with the thought that “barbarity” is a sense of opinion. The connection between the Roman Coliseum and Fighting in hockey is absolutely legit.

    And BTW, NYKINGFAN, if soccer is so boring why do literally billions of people tune in to see it every week? Not to mention, a ticket to a Premiere league game will average about 200 dollars and nobody is complaining. Unlike in hockey where 20 bucks seems a bit steep for the cost of admission.
    Its absolutely hilarious that you insult a sport that demands so much of its players (90 minutes of running and contact) and yet you support a sport where a guy like Ivan can make almost a million dollars a year playing about 5 minutes a night. Brilliant again!



    How about George Parros, Jody Shelley, Fritz (NYI), Matt Johnson (i can’t leave him out even though he’s no longer playing), Andrew Peters, Wade Belak…

  • nykingfan


    It’s my opinion that soccer is a friggin boring sport. I understand how popular the game is worldwide. I never put down the athletes that play soccer. I just can’t sit thru a soccer match without falling alseep.
    It’s also my opinion as a “loyal hockey fan” that fighting is good for the sport and enjoyable. I didn’t mean that to infer that if you don’t like fighting, you’re not a loyal fan. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on the matter.
    What bothers me is when the media writes that fans don’t enjoy fighting and want it eliminated….which fans are they talking about and why am I not included? They are the one’s who don’t like hockey and for the most part, ignore the sport.

    Gordie Howe??? Where did the term “Gordie Howe hat- trick come from? Goal/Assist/Fight
    Why did he have under 100 PIM? I have no clue…maybe he didn’t take many stupid minor penalties. I can tell you, I doubt he ever won the Lady Bing trophy.

    I’ll also admit that in the WJC and the olympics, fighting isn’t necessary and really isn’t missed. Also remember that they are short series….Its not an 80 game schedule they’re playing. You can’t have the type of intensity you see in those tournaments every night in the NHL.
    Same thing with NHL playoffs….you don’t see fighting all that often…again, short series..high intensity levels.

  • JDM


    Alright, I can admit to false logic when I employ it. I believe however that it is equally false to point to cases like the Westgarth fight as a reason for banning fighting. I’ve always found it silly to point to a handful of unfortunate cases to say “see, fighting is too dangerous”. My real point is that more serious injuries occur in every other facet of the game. More players get hurt blocking shots or taking clean checks than from fights. So its a bogus argument both ways.

    As for the wjc’s, yes they were extremely exciting, and there was no fighting. However it was also the dirtiest series of games I’ve ever seen. It was like everyones idol is Phanuef and Chelios. Nothing but evil stickwork and unneccessary roughness and blind runs taken. So while it was exciting sans fights, they weren’t exactly clean and safe games. I think its a miracle no one left that tournament with a broken bone, oh wait, Moller did, from a cheap shot.



    I thought you were trying to infer we who would like harsher fighting penalties were not “real” fans of Hockey.
    I totally understand NOT being into soccer, but I feel there is a chance Hockey can be much more popular without the “barbaric” tag attached – which I believe comes from the acceptance of fisticuffs.

    BTW – Gordie did fight, but fighting then was much less common, I believe. It happened, but there weren’t goons being drafted to those very talented teams because the rosters were much smaller and the importance of skill was paramount. I believe it was in the 70’s that Philly brought the thug brand of hockey into the NHL. All others were forced to adapt. It may have a lot to do with the fact that Al Snider, the owner, was a media-mogul who was “selling” the game. Back then, it drew crowds hungry for blood. But it’s also the era in which soccer saw it’s most intense crowd violence – something that has been addressed VERY well in England and Europe.
    There comes a time for things to change. We’re trying to create a more peaceful world. Violent hits and injuries that are a part of the action of playing the game are no problem, but the display of aggression and success-by-assault, IMO, needs to decrease. Again – harsher penalties don’t have to mean a “fightless” nhl. Just one in which fighting will be much more tactically considered.

    JDM – I was merely saying that the Westgarth incident was a “staged” fight. In a game where Westgarth and his combatant are given game-misconducts for a fight, I think there would be serious consideration before engaging in a fight.

    I reiterate here, harsher penalties on fighting will only REDUCE the number of fights. You were mistaken when you stated that there were no fights in the WJC’s. I’m pretty certain there were at least 2 – one involving Teddy Ruth of the American team. I still believe that its a fact that the officiating was horrible in that tournament, but it actually helped create a more compelling and charged atmosphere – so, go figure, right?

    I just don’t understand those “people get killed in car accidents” arguments in favor of fighting’s acceptance. People do get killed in cars, but you’re not allowed to fight and run into people who make you angry on the road.

    Cheers, JDM.

  • nykingfan


    I realized after reading my initial post, how that could be taken the wrong way. Sorry…

    Funny thing about the difference in “goons” from the 70’s and today. the biggest goon in hockey in the 70’s was Dave Schultz. I don’t think he was more than 5’9″” maybe 5’10”. the Islanders biggest goon was Garry Howatt..he was all of 5’8″ and that was being generous. Tiger Williams wasn’t a tall guy. Somehow it evolved into the bigger guys being the goons.
    Fighting is something that true hockey fans have and will continue to argue over. Its ok…with or without it, we’d all still love the game.


    Cheers nykingfan.

    I know you love the game. Was just getting my .02 cents of opinion in.

    luv ya, buddy, and your passion for the game…

  • Ersberg

    “Please stop with that argument. Should your neighbor get a 5 minute penalty for kicking your ass if you step on his lawn?”


    That’ll go down in the “Insidesocal” Hall-of-Fame.

    Good stuff.

    A couple of you guys never cease to amaze me. Awesome.

  • JDM

    I see the distinction you are making EAT. I don’t want to get into an argument that spans more than just hockey here. I wasn’t aware of the 2 fights at the wjc. I just don’t think the Westgarth incident had anything to do with the fight being ‘staged’. Would it be any more accetpable if it broke out randomly in the middle of play?

    The premise of wanting harsher penalties for fights because of the image it gives hockey I barely accept, since most non-hockey fans I personally talk to or take to games generally want nothing more than to see a fight. Usually if I bring such a person to a game and there is no fight they feel slighted. The premise of harsher penalties for fighting because of freak accidents and violence itself tho I can’t accept. I’m very much with DL here, OK with the idea that the fight is over once someones helmet is off, but even then, why does regulation play continue when a players helmet falls off, other than the goalies? Its equally as , if not infinitely more dangerous.

    Ultimately you can’t take the danger out of the game. Hell, as uncouth and subconscious as it may be, the potential for serious injury is one of the appeals of not just hockey, but several sports. The only thing I’m never ok with are intent to injure plays where the recipient is not given fair chance to defend himself. In a fight, there is a decision made on the part of both players. On a clean check a player has the opportunity to see the guy coming at him and brace themselves. Its sucker punches and hits from behind and to the head that are unnacceptable. Everyone gets the opportunity to defend themselves, past that, it is up to the player to keep their head up, both literally and figuratively. I just can’t see how making fighting punishable by ejection or suspension is A) going to lead to less violence in one of the most violent sports, or B) make the game anymore exciting or marketable.

    Ultimately this where we really disagree is the image fighting gives hockey. I think it draws crowds, whereas some think it repels them.

    Nationwide survey? I wish.

    Love these debates with you EAT, that’s always a sure thing!

  • nykingfan

    Right back at you ETR
    Cheers buddy

  • I