Two Issues: What Grinds a Rant Man's Gears

Ok, it is NOT about the All-Star Skills competition, so you are all spared that torture. Two huge issues came up this week that may change the perception of the sport of hockey, well, possibly forever. Lets go in the order of importance:

1) (AP article) PHILADELPHIA -- A Philadelphia Flyers minor league enforcer was discharged from a hospital Saturday, a day after having a seizure following a bloody fight -- and weeks after the death of an amateur player who hit his head on the ice while fighting.

Garrett Klotz, a hulking 20-year-old right wing in his first season with the American Hockey League's Philadelphia Phantoms, was taken off the ice on a stretcher Friday night in the opening seconds of a 2-1 victory over Manchester.

Phantoms spokesman Brian Smith said Friday night that Klotz was alert and responsive on the way to the hospital and watched the rest of the game on television.

"It was a scary incident," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren told Comcast SportsNet. "But we just got word from our doctor that he's clear. There's no facial fracture. They're stitching him up. His jaw is fine and there's no tooth fracture or anything. It's a scary ordeal, but he's going to be fine."

Klotz and Kevin Westgarth -- both 6-foot-5 and Westgarth 12 pounds heavier at 247 -- removed their helmets and squared off immediately after the opening faceoff, with Klotz possibly retaliating for Westgarth's Nov. 7 fight with the Phantoms' Jeff Szwez.

The long fight ended when Westgarth hit Klotz with an uppercut and two more hard punches, dropping him to the ice -- and possibly knocking him out. Klotz appeared to land awkwardly on the boards -- but didn't hit his head -- and convulsed for 30 to 40 seconds. He was on the ice for about 10 minutes before being lifted onto the stretcher.

Klotz, from Regina, Saskatchewan, has one assist and 54 penalty minutes in 30 games for the Phantoms this season. After the Flyers drafted him 66th overall in 2007, he had a goal, three assists and 97 penalty minutes in 52 games last season for Saskatoon in the junior Western Hockey League. In 150 WHL games in three seasons with Red Deer and Saskatoon, he had five goals, five assists and 229 penalty minutes.

Westgarth has a goal, four assists and 109 penalty minutes in 38 games this season for Manchester. The former Princeton forward also played two penalty- and point-free games this season for the Los Angeles Kings.

The seizure followed the Jan. 2 death of Don Anderson, the 21-year-old Whitby Dunlops defenseman who hit his head on the ice after his helmet fell while fighting Dec. 12 in an Ontario Hockey Association game.

Answer from the Rant Man [RM]) Ok, now we have back-to-back incidents where someone has either died or experienced near deadly force causing some head trauma induced seizures. What do you think the message of the sport is becoming now if it weren't already such? "Hockey is a violent sport in all aspects". Yes, this is true in two ways; the playing aspect and the physical toughness aspect. Body checking, scrums in the corner, squaring up at center ice to get the crowd and bench charged up or to come to the defense of a teammate...there are many reasons why hockey is physical. Granted the NHL is trying to appeal to the masses, so Bettman's Funland for kids is becoming a reality with all the subtle changes being made every year. But, if he and the board of governors dare touch fighting in the NHL in anyway (again...see instigator rule), I will watch another tier of the hockey professionalism ladder. Maybe I will go so far as watching some Russian KHL action and retool my Russian language skills again (Sorry Father Simon, I didn't keep up with the vocab like you consistently suggested).

My issue is that two incidents don't make a mandate for change. Last year, the league didn't react to the Richard Zednik corroded artery incident with sudden change for neck guards. It was the second time such an incident occurred with a skate (but I will say, there have been hundreds of close calls). I think that unless it becomes an epidemic, don't change anything with the fighting. This has come up numerous times in the past decade, but fighting is a piece of hockey tradition. If you're removing it because of the possible lethal consequences, then show me statistics on how often and likely it is going to end up deadly. Maybe after that I'll understand and accept it. But so long as there is UFC/MMA, bare knuckle fighting (and then some), if those guys (and gals) can go at it with minimum protection on their bodies, then fighting in hockey should remain. It seems laughable to remove fighting in hockey with the continuing existence of Mixed Martial Arts and Ultimate Fighting Competitions. Think of what all the followers on that side would think if fighting were removed. Certain words come to mind, and I will not publish them here.

2) NHL Moves Awards Ceremony to Las Vegas (Scott Burnside - ESPN) The NHL will indeed be taking their annual awards ceremony from downtown Toronto to the Las Vegas Strip.

A league source tells that plans are now coming into focus for the awards show to make its first visit to Las Vegas on June 18, shortly after the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs and before the NHL draft in Montreal.

The ceremony is expected to be hosted by the Palms Casino and Resort.

Along with the show itself, former NHL greats Pat LaFontaine and Luc Robitaille will put together teams for a celebrity charity hockey game.

The NHL Players' Association will also hold its annual North American summer meetings in Las Vegas around the awards show as the league tries to turn it into a marquee event.

The NHL has long been rumored to be interested in exploring the idea of a franchise in the gambling mecca. Perhaps moving the awards show there will give a sense of what draw the sport might have in Vegas.

One NHL executive told there is no downside to moving the show to the gaming center. "It's all up-side," he said.

Answer from RM) What the hell? Are you serious? Did Bettman just figuratively flip off Canada? Is Rick Tocchet going to revisit his gambling problems during the awards ceremony? Are people delusional in the idea that sand and ice mix perfectly well (ie. Phoenix Coyotes and now the awards ceremony)?

Those were all questions, and not answers, I know. This topic will receive my full, uh attention and effort, for the next show coming up this week. Don't miss it.

~Rant Man~

The 2nd Annual Hockey Weekend Across America

To better get the word out about hockey in the United States, the second annual 'Hockey Weekend Across America' is on. February 13-15 is the weekend this year. Watch the video below for more details.

Hockey Week Season 2: Episode 2 (01/21/09): All Star Talk and Recent Headlines

Download Show 2

It's a discussion on the All-Star Game, helmets in fights at the OHA level, and various player issues.

Check it out!

Questions, comments, concerns, and, of course, complaints can be sent to

Hockey Week Season 2: Episode 1 (01/12/09): The New Beginning

We're baaaack! With a little help too. Well, not saying that we need any help here with the show, but the more people the merrier! Welcome aboard, Robert Kelley! We'll post an exaggerated biography later. Anyway, we found a splendid way of posting the entire show to the blog page and to itunes! Isn't that just the best news next to Barry Melrose coaching again? Oh, wait... Yeah, you get the point.

Tons of stuff going on in this show. Apologies on the audio issues with patching me (the Rant Man) through. We're still working out all the kinks. Oh, I'm in Washington, DC, by the way. Tune in to experience all the mayhem!

Show one of the second season of Hockey Week in Review is on! Click the link below to download it now, or subscribe to the feed on iTunes to have all upcoming episodes automatically downloaded to your computation machines!

Download Season Two: Show 1