Sunday, January 11, 2015

Jarred Tinordi Dual Jersey Card

I tried to avoid talking about it, but I just couldn't. It happened in the AHL, but no doubt it'll be another spark in the Fighting Debate at the NHL level as well, so, uh, before getting to verbalizing about it, here's the fight from Friday night's game between the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Utica Comets (which the Bulldogs won 3-0), pitting Montréal Canadiens prospect Jarred Tinordi against Andrey Pedan of the Vancouver Canucks' organization:

Tinordi, the son of former NHLer Mark Tinordi, grew up in the American system, where there are no fights. He only started fighting after being drafted by the Habs (first round, 22nd overall, in 2010), when they pressured him into going to the OHL's London Knights instead of the University Of Notre Dame Fighting Irish, so he could ''learn to play like in the NHL'' and ''be more physical'', which included fighting and ''defending his teammates''.

Pedan is a Russian-born (some sources say Lithuanian, some say he was born in Moscow) heavyweight enforcer who had two seasons of 145 PIMs or more in the OHL, then spent parts of the next two seasons in the ECHL, where he was in the minuses both times. He was traded earlier this season, but in 6 (six) games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers before the deal, he had 51 penalty minutes - and I'm pretty certain those weren't all tripping calls.

It was never going to be a fair fight.

I touched upon fighting in a recent post on Vincent Lecavalier, saying the ''heat of the moment'' fight between he and Jarome Iginla was about two leaders going at it, two tough star players eking out their frustrations, an equal loss and equal spark on both sides.

I also showed how hard the so-called ''goons'' have it mentally in a recent post about Brent Severyn, with the sub-text that everyone knows they wouldn't want to do that job and how self-destructive it is, yet they all turn a blind eye to it.

When polled, players usually overwhelmingly state they'd rather keep fighting (and fighters) in the game, usually as a fraternal move, because everyone hates to see a friend lose their job, especially one who they consider was protecting them.

There as well lies a conflicting underlying message: protect them from what? Inevitably, the answer is ''from dirty hits'', all of which are illegal according to the rule book. So, the second underlying message is: if referees would do their jobs properly, there wouldn't be an issue, but players seem to think they simply can't - whether it's because they're awful, or it's what their bosses - the NHL GMs and owners, through the Board of Governors - ask for is up for debate.

Still, it's clear the players need to be protected from themselves, and staged fights pitting enforcers against one another need to go. Sure, John Tortorella overreacted last year after the Calgary Flames started their five toughest players to start a game, but he wasn't wrong in being pissed off. If he'd started his best players to face them, they were all at serious risk of being injured, whether directly at the face-off, or as soon as Calgary would have lost control of their defensive zone ten seconds later, and any one of the Flames players could have taken a run at any Canucks player. Instead, Tortorella started his five toughest guys, two of which were no match in the melee that ensued.

And if staged fights - the ''before the face-off'' fights, those ''to create momentum'' when a team is trailing, the ''wake-up'' fights when a team is slumping - have to also bring with them the more honorable ''heat of the moment'' fights, then so be it. There are no fights at the Olympics - perhaps the best hockey on the planet; there are no fights in U.S. College games.

It's gotten to the point where any good, legal, hard hit gets a retaliatory fight - and that's not right. It's unsportsmanlike. Hockey is a physical sport, and the dumb, Boston Bruins-type ''you hit my guy, you have to pay by getting your face smashed in'' fights are perhaps the worst thing in the game today. Proponents of keeping fighting in the game are quick to point that it would take the physicality out of the game, when in reality, it's probably closer to the opposite. How many big hits are thrown in football versus the number of fights there?

In a very physical league with no fighting, Tinordi would be a very useful player, a valuable commodity. But because fighting isn't in his DNA (yet), he's in the AHL this year, despite having a better point-per-game average (2 assists in 9 games) than fellow prospect Nathan Beaulieu (4 assists in 26 games) who, as a shorter, offensive defenseman, has never been asked to fight.

I won't solve this issue here, today, by myself. The debate will go on for years. Hopefully Tinordi recovers fully soon, and by then no one will have died.

In the meantime, here's a beautiful card I got last year, from Upper Deck's 2013-14 Black Diamond set (#ROOKD-JT of the Double Diamond Jerseys sub-set), showing him wearing the Habs' white (now-away) uniform, with red and blue swatches from a photo shoot:


  1. Nice 2 colour card there. He could be a fan favourite when it starts playing full-time!

  2. Thanks, and yes, I concur, he has what no other defenseman on the team does, so I'm sure fans will love him!