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Old School Payback?

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I grew up watching old school Norris Division hockey where every Blackhawks-Wings game featured at least one fight and many took 4 hours to play because of all the extra curricular activities. I'm not really a big fan of fighting--I never go to but I am a fan of toughness.

Last night I saw a free hit on the Thrashers best player Ilya Kovalchuk. Yes Todd White jumped on him immediately (kudos to White) but does anyone really think that other players around the league are going to think twice about running Kovalchuk if Todd White is the biggest thing they have to worry about?

This gratuitous hit came in Kovalchuk's game in the first game back in the NHL after he was hit late by Ruutu of the Penguins. Again someone jumped on Ruutu (McCarthy) but is that going to stop future hits on Ilya? No.

I'm old fashioned. When someone takes a free shot at your best player that means someone on your team MUST take the same shot at THEIR best player. Once you do the other coach says "OK guys calm down we can't afford to lose Malkin or Luongo for a month"

I don't want to put too fine a point on it but here's how it works. Vancouver player hits Kovalchuk away from the puck and sends him into the boards. On their next shift Larsen or Slater (he losses his balance easily anyway) busts down the ice and skates directly into Luongo full speed. Message sent.

Will he be tossed from the game? Likely. Can the Thrashers win without Larsen, Slater or Boulton the rest of the game--yes they can. Can the Thrashers win if Kovalchuk gets hurt from another cheap shot--no, not over the long haul. Men of the checking lines--time to step up and do what needs to be done. I'm not an advocate of goon hockey, but I will say that a little of goonery can go a long way.

While I'm calling people out I think it also time time for Don Waddell to stand up after a game and say something that will get him fined. How about saying "the next time a guy takes a free shot at Ilya we're going after that team's best player!" Will it cost Don a $50,000 fine? Yes. Will the message get sent around the league? Absolutely. It will replayed on NHL On The Fly and in the pre-game show of every visiting team. Is it worth $50,000 for the organization to send that message that their $6,389,000-a-year top player is not fair game--yes it is. Besides they can just give DW a bonus at the end of the year.