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Grit and injuries at camp

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Grit at camp is a bad idea and recent events also show that

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Minnesota Wild Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Now you may have heard of an incident between Clarke MacArthur and Patrick Sieloff at the Ottawa Senators training camp. It’s a shame that something like still happens in 2016. Maybe something like this happened in the past but with the style of hockey today it simply shouldn’t happen.

Teams still do bring some agitators to camp or just have them under contract for some games requiring toughness even though, time after time, it’s proven that they aren’t necessary. Just look at the Penguins team that won the cup. No-one took a run at Crosby or Kessel even with them not having an enforcer on the team. The speed a depth player can bring can actually help, an enforcer can’t. I’m not saying enforcers are completely useless as they do have uses as All-Star game captains or a slight wake-up for the team. But when one of them goes against their own team at camp, especially when considering Clarke MacArthur had just recovered from a serious concussion and a concussion could actually end his career, it’s just inconceivable.

Sieloff may not even be the only guy to do this even the Wild’s Kurtis Gabriel, drafted before such players like Oliver Bjorkstrand, could do something like this just trying to show their grit and win the hearts of a more traditionally minded coaching staff. The Sieloff case though does seem like maybe the coaches didn’t really set a tone for the play at camp and expected it to be easy going without much physicality but then Sieloff, who Calgary even had to warn the Senators about when he was dealt, went in to show his physicality to maybe earn an NHL spot.

Now you also want to consider what kind of camp the teams want to have. It obviously depends on management but it seems kind of weird how some may be willing to risk injury by a teammate before the season even starts when it’s so difficult to send players to Olympics for a few games, with far less agitators on teams. Obviously the situation with the Olympics and training camp are very different but if teams are so worried of injuries at Olympics or even the All-Star game how do you let your players go after each other at a scrimmage? Camp also divides often players into groups with NHL level players being separated and going against groups with AHL players and some borderline players hoping to secure a roster spot putting pressure on them to show their biggest asset which for some could just be playing hard and with grit and showing it requires them to throw some hard hits, even if it’s in essence it’s someone on your team.

Lots of older coaches and staffs like still like players who provide some “grit”, as Wild fans should know from Mike Yeo, and that leads to things like Andrew Shaw being worth 2 2nd rounders, Shea Weber being worth P.K. Subban. Dirty players always come up a few times each year when a real dirty hit happens and someone gets a really long suspension but nothing will stop such guys from coming up. With management getting younger and more analytic based the teams will start dropping the enforcers and pure grit players for more speed and skill but there are still organizations with no intent of changing, like Montreal, and I doubt until something like a player hurting a team mate happens there that change would happen. Of course succeeding poorly drives teams away from traditional style but with star players on most teams they can drag up the teams and make it hard for traditional management and owners to see need for change.

So in the meantime let’s just be glad that Boudreau doesn’t love grit and hope that Gabriel or anyone else does any stupidities at camp.