While the Toronto Maple Leafs are becoming the poster boys for “truculence” another NHL team doesn’t want to see anyone dropping the gloves during training camp at all. Damian Cristodero tells us about Lightning head coach Guy Boucher’s wishes to see his team work on things other than punching each other in the face during practice.
“This is not an extermination camp. It’s a training camp,” he said. “They all have our jersey on, which means they are part of this family. They belong to us, and we start that respect. It starts here for me. We don’t want anyone breaking their hands.”
Beyond that, Boucher said, there is no room on the roster for players who only brawl.
“If they’re just going to fight, they’re not good enough to play at our level,” he said. “If they’re good enough, they’re going to show it … which means they’re going to earn their way into at least one exhibition game. They can dance with whoever they want from there.”
This was an adjustment you could see coming. Boucher and GM Steve Yzerman discussed this a bit during the summer, but when the Lightning let pugilist Zenon Konopka walk away in free agency and with the efforts they’ve made to help Steve Downie evolve his game into one where he’s an agitator and power forward, it makes sense for the team. After all, if a guy’s only skill on the ice is to fight, that doesn’t give a coach great flexibility with the lineup and instantly makes that line he plays on a liability.
While some teams seem to never drop the gloves (the Red Wings being one of them) making it such a public point is a unique thing to do. After all, fighting is part of the game and always has been. Stressing that they’re a team and they need to work together sure does help hammer the point home, however.