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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Wakeup Call: Look at cause, not symptoms in NHL

Some sporting thoughts before sunrise …

>> My Friday column advises the Steelers to embrace their oldness. Stop running from it, look at this season for exactly what it is: One last chance with a long-illustrious group.

I am highly interested to hear your views on this.

>> So, Arron Asham punched out Washington’s Jay Beagle, the kid was felled to the ice, blood came gushing out, and all the discussion afterward was about Asham’s stupid celebratory display.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the NHL.

I’m not absolving Asham’s antics in any way, shape or form. They were unsportsmanlike in the context of almost any sport, in light of Asham knowing he had done a player harm. But focusing on the antics rather than the fight is tantamount to getting mad at someone who robbed your house because you gave you an obscene gesture on the way out

Why were they fighting?

And why does the NHL allow it?

The answer to the first question is that Beagle rudely ripped off Kris Letang’s helmet. As a result, Beagle definitely had it coming. Maybe someone could drive him into the boards. Maybe someone in stripes could, oh, you know, call a penalty severe enough to discourage such activity in the future. But only in hockey is it seen as necessary to drop gloves in organized fashion, have the linesmen clear everyone out of the virtual ring, then watch two people throw punches until they can’t throw anymore.

I was at the game, but I later heard one of the TV commentators suggest that the Penguins would benefit from the “momentum” of the fight, that they were a little flat before that.


They need additional motivation when they’re down a goal in the third period to a team they can’t stand?

How stupid.

The Penguins didn’t benefit, the 18,387 fans really couldn’t have benefited all that much from watching a young man look like he was in legitimate peril on the ice, and I just can’t imagine that the NHL benefits from having that on its national cable network.

I’ll say it again: How stupid.

Here it is, for those of you who missed it …


>> Just about the only thing dumber on the evening was the Capitals’ Bruce Boudreau and Alexander Ovechkin taking issue with Asham fighting Beagle, who is in his first full NHL season. The kid knew the rules of the game going in, I assume. If he’s not ready, don’t send him over the boards.

>> If Rushel Shell does commit to Pitt this morning, as is widely expected, the superb Hopewell running back should have Todd Graham sign in blood that the Panthers will have a new quarterback next season.

>> Thanks to all who participated in the weekly chat yesterday.

I will be at the Steelers’ game Sunday, as always, then it’s to Winnipeg and Minnesota with the Penguins the two days after that. That’s Jaguars, Jets and Wild in three days, which has to be some kind of natural hat trick, right?


  1. Dejan Kovacevic says:

    @PghBoyInCA: I am so sorry, but I just accidentally deleted your comment here and the final 15 of the last thread in one fell swoop. I was clearing four spam entries out, and I accidentally checked off all 20 comments that were on the page … poof, they were gone, with no retrieval possible.

    Again, my apologies.

  2. Luke B. says:

    I think the Asham fight was huge in the game; it was akin to the Max Talbot “sssshhhh” moment, which inspired the Pens to a crucial win. Maybe I’m just a stupid member of the unruly Roman mob, ready to see gladiators beat the stuffing out of each other, but fighting has it’s place in hockey.

    With that being said, fighting should always have a very small and limited place in the game. The Federal League excuse for “hockey” that went on in Long Island last February should have never happened. Players like Trevor Gillies and Michael Haley, who routinely collect suspensions and PIMs than

  3. JAL says:

    JAL’s Misty Moisty Morning Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3- 2011-12 Pirates Prospects Off-Season Calendar

  4. SeanE says:

    DK-I only can think of a one word response to your statements about fighting in the NHL….AMEN.

  5. JAL says:

    5 Bucs Dugout

    Robbie Grossman Has Three Hits In Arizona Fall League Action

    6 Rumbunter

    Lost Edition of Pittsburgh Pirates Photoshops

    7 McEffect

    Were the Pirates Smart to Part Ways with Maholm?

    8 Why Gavs

    What are the Pirates trying to do in 2012?

  6. JAL says:

    11 Detroit Free Press

    Mitch Albom: Tigers’ homers boost gutsy Justin Verlander to Game 5 win

    Drew Sharp: One crazy ricochet could change Tigers-Rangers series

    Michael Rosenberg: Tigers’ key hitters finally deliver in clutch to extend season

    12 Fort Worth Star Telegram

    Third base comes up big in Detroit’s 7-5 win

    Galloway: Bad hop, bad C.J. means time to buckle up, Rangers fans

    Dr. October doesn’t get the job done for Rangers

  7. JAL says:

    WVU Blogs

    WV Illustrated

    Sneak Peek and Preview: The Dana Holgorsen Show

    Senior Leaders Ready to Step Up on the Court



    The Rivalry Lives: Pens Fall to Caps 3-2 in OT

  8. Dan says:

    I would love to see the NHL ban fighting all together. But that being said, the Asham fight last night was actually fighting “the way it is supposed to be” (yes, I realize that sounds stupid).

    Here you have a Caps player taking liberties with one of the Pens, so another Pens player essentially says “no” by fighting him. No agreement before the faceoff, but a spur of the moment thing. The Caps player seemingly doesn’t know how to protect himself in the fight and gets knocked out. So the question is, will this fight deter the Caps player from playing the same way the next time? If so, that is fighting in hockey like it is supposed to be. Still stupid, but just saying…

    As for the gesture, yeah it was stupid but really who cares. You’re going to say its ok to fight someone with your bare fists, but then get offended by gestures?

  9. Jandy says:

    Dan, you’re spot on. I agree with you…excpet on one point. Beagle is good enough to dish, so he’d better be ready to take it too. He was actually making look ASH bad until Ash had a chance to throw a punch or two.
    The gesture was classless…that’s the one thing I disagree with you on. But then, Ash did apologize later. Give him some credit.
    However, had the refs made the correct call in the first place (Beagle DID rip off Letang’s helmet) there wouldn’t have been a fight in the first place. And spare me the BS about not being able to see everything. Too many of these refs are incompetent and “see” only what they want to.

  10. Drew71 says:

    I hadn’t seen the fight, so i watched the linked video.

    Question: What antics after the fight? What stupid celebratory display?

    I didn’t see any. In fact, the announcers, who do not appear to be Pittsburgh announcers, gave sportsmanship credit to Asham, saying: “Good form there too. Did you see that cutaway of Aaron Asham? Aaron Asham tapping the bench with his stick. Giving Beagle good marks for getting up and being ok.”

    Is there more that happened that the clip did not show? Seriously…I have no idea what the “antic” thing applies to from watching the video in the link. And evidently the announcers also didn’t see whatever celebratory display everyone is talking about.

  11. Dan1283 says:

    I’ve never called for fighting to be banned in hockey before, but with all the recent attention on concussions, the recently deceased fighters, and the general swell in calls to eliminate fighting over the last few years, it occurred to me that this whole clip of Asham counting the guy out and giving him the go to sleep sign is the last thing the NHL needs right now.

    I want to watch hockey. For people whose greatest thrill of the first 5 games is that fight, then maybe the WWE is better suited for you. I’m not interested in watching my favorite team’s players hurt a guy, then pull some studio wrestling moves to taunt him. I don’t much feel like trying to defend it either.

    Good for Asham for admitting his classless act, but that should help little once these clips hit PTI and go viral, considering the guy that got knocked out plays in America’s most PC media market.

  12. Milo Hamilton says:

    Happy 65th Birthday to Al Oliver.

  13. Naje says:

    Happy birthday Scoops! One of my all-time favorite players…

  14. Bizrow says:

    Scoop was close to 3000 hits, wasn’t he? Or at least within 3 or 400? Too bad he didn’t make it, I don’t seem to remember that he missed much time due to injuries though

  15. Naje says:

    I used to pull for the Rangers because of him… and always loved seeing him play for the Expos (even though my disdain for Gary Carter runs very, very deep).

    Look at these numbers: 2,743 hits, .303BA, 529 2b, 77 3b, 219 hr, 1189 runs, 1326 rbi, only 756 Ks in more than 9,000 at bats… man was born to swing the bat.

  16. Stan says:

    If Beagle didn’t get knocked out, the Asham gesture would have been nothing. I can almost guarantee you that Asham didn’t realize how lifeless Beagle’s body was until after he skated away.

    Emotion is a part of the game. If you take a way fighting, you’re going to get a lot more cheap shots. Beagle didn’t have to drop his gloves. Asham wouldn’t have knocked him on cold if he didn’t.

    You can’t make up adrenaline. The adrenaline rush sent through a crowd and the other players on the ice after a fight or even just a big hit is something that cannot be made up, no matter the score or the situation.
    Why do the Steelers need to hear renegade before they make a stop? Play the sports. You’ll feel it.

  17. JAL says:

    He had 2743 hits, missed by 257. His last two seasons stopped him–after playing 157 games in 1983 with 184 hits he dropped to 119 games in 1984 and 96 games in 1985 though he still hit .301 and .252 those two seasons. In 1981 he only played 102 games.

  18. Bizrow says:

    I thought he had about 2700 hits, more dingers than Roberto and those strike out numbers are impressive, thanks for the info

  19. CWalton_67 says:

    Anyone remember Greg Lloyd? If I recall correctly, he once counted out a Jets player, WWF style during a game. I think he was fined, but I don’t remember any public backlash or him apologizing for doing so. I am NOT condoning Asham’s actions, just raising this for discussion purposes. I think Asham regretted his actions immediately, you could nearly see his thought process on his face.

    I am thrilled that Ovechkin and Boudreau are Washington Capitals. As long as they are there, it ensures that we’ll have a good laugh watching them lose in the playoffs every spring.

    On another note- a Soldier died for your freedom yesterday. He was serving in a unit in Afghanistan, commanded by a young man I had in my class when I taught ROTC at Pitt. I did not know him personally, but understand the pain of his loss. My young friend in Afghanistan wrote to me, asking how to write a letter of condolence to the Soldier’s wife and parents. I do not ask for your sympathy, loss of friends and fellow Soldiers is our burden; we understood the consequences of our decision when we raised our right hand. I’d simply ask that you say a prayer for the young man who made the ultimate sacrifice, his family, and his fellow Soldiers. And that you remember all the great young Americans who are sacrificing every day, around the world, in order that we might enjoy our freedom.

  20. Milo Hamilton says:

    He hit the first homer I ever saw at a big league game, off Chris Short of the Phillies at Three Rivers. He was my favorite player from that day on. I was crushed when they traded him but it all worked out in the end. They got, not prospects, but Bert Blyleven & John Milner – two important players on their last championship team.

  21. Jandy says:

    @Drew ~ Ash did a wrestling motion that means knocked out…then pt his folded hands beside his face to say he’s gone “to sleep”. Not huge antics, but certainly not cool either. But like I said, he did apologize so he had that much class. He also gave Beagle stick taps when he got off the ice.
    If the kid can’t take it, he shouldn’t try to dish it out. I also feel the refs were slow on calling Beagle for pulling off Tanger’s helmet. That may have made a difference in the fight happening at all.
    I personally like the fighting in hockey, as long as both parties agree. Beagle sure wasn’t shying away, and he certainly tried his best to get the best of Ash, throwing the first round of punches.
    Luke B and Walton above also had some good points.

    @ Walton ~ sending up prayers for this soldier immediately!

  22. JohnS says:

    Al would tell you if half of his line drive outs had fallen in he would have had 3,500 hits.

  23. Vinqtin says:

    If you are supposed to feel bad for the guy that was just punching you in the face then fighting really has no place in hockey or anywhere else. Seriously, the point is to teach the other guy a lesson. If you have to feel bad afterward then who’s learning a lesson? Are the rest of the Caps sitting there thinking ” Yeah, Asham probably won’t want to fight again after what he did to Beagle so I think I can get away with something when he’s on the ice.” Why bother.

    DK and others are right, fighting should be gone from the NHL but as long as it is there and two players willingly take part, then to the victor go the spoils. No regrets.

    BTW, how much longer do I have to hear Bob Errey say something like; ” The Pens will never get that call when they’re already up a man.” or ” Look for for an “even up” call here by the official.” In addition to fighting, the officiating needs cleaned up. If you see a penalty, call it. If not, don’t make one up just because one team has been shorthanded more than the other.

  24. Milo Hamilton says:


    I’ve met him a few times. After prompting, he runs with the line drives every time. Very hail fellow well met.

  25. CWalton_67 says:

    Thanks, Jandy.

  26. PhillyJake says:

    The NHL can’t afford to get rid of fighting. They make too much money off of it.

    Look at the highlights. I know about the fight. Anyone showing the winning goal? What’s the lead video on the main article? The fight.

    How many more people are going to read about his because of the fight? Will anyone buy a Asham Jersey now because he beat the crap out of Beagle?

    How many more tickets are the Caps going to sell the next time the Pens come to DC to see the rematch?

  27. Sammich says:

    I saw the highlights of the Pens-Caps game on ESPN America. They did not show any video of the fight, or mention it in any way. Fighting in the NHL is of interest only to you violent Americans.

  28. PhillyJake says:

    I sincerely hope you are right and I am wrong.

    The cheering crowds at the game support my POV, though.

  29. Milo Hamilton says:


    Violent Americans ? The reason that fighting continues is rooted in neanderthal thinking north of the border.

  30. JAL says:

    Gerrit Cole’s 1st two innings in AFL–1 hit, 2 K, o runs, 0 walks–30 pitches 22 for strikes. Hit 100 on the gun.

  31. TS says:


    Of course you’re right. That post-hockey game riot in Vancouver was actually created on a studio lot in Hollywood. Jack wagon.

  32. Milo Hamilton says:


    Sounds like our boy was a little pumped up after all the down time.

  33. Milo Hamilton says:

    Cole finished giving up 3 ER in 2.1 IP. He figured to be a little rusty on 130 days rest.

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