Colorado Avalanche goalie Pavel Francouz was injured in a collision with a Jets player, prompting fans and even pundits to call for old-school fighting.
Roughly thirty seconds into last night’s contest, Colorado Avalanche backup goaltender Pavel Francouz was the victim of a questionable hit by Winnipeg Jet, Mark Scheifele. Francouz, who laid motionless on the ice for quite some time, would leave the game and be replaced by third string goaltender, Adam Werner.
Immediately after the hit, the masses called for a fight. One notable tweet from Altitude Colorado Avalanche Analyst Mark Rycroft, implied that Scheifele would not have even hit Francouz if fighting were still a large part of hockey.
This could not be further from the truth, especially with the way the game is headed. Unfortunately, this is a very old school mindset.
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If you watch the replay closely, it looks like Scheifele was either trying to turn or stop, but both Girard and Scheifele have an odd collision, and the momentum shift looked like it caused both of them to hit Francouz. It’s questionable whether or not Scheifele attempted to get out of the way and NOT run down Francouz, but either way, the goalie interference penalty the Jets were handed was definitely warranted.
The Colorado Avalanche entered last night’s game with six injured players. Less than a minute into the game, they would add a seventh player to the injury list. 35% of the Colorado Avalanche opening night roster is currently injured. And the second Francouz went down, the first reaction by the fans was a fight, someone to “stand up for the goalie.” Let’s explore why a fight is NOT the answer.
A fight will result in a fighting penalty, which may or may not be assessed to both teams, as well as the possibility of either an instigator or roughing penalty. In this hypothetical situation, this would put the team on the penalty kill with your third string goaltender in net less than five minutes into the game.
Not only is the penalty a problem, but as we learned last season, fights can result in injured players. Ian Cole missed 11 games, with a broken orbital bone, after fighting Tom Wilson last season in early February. In this hypothetical scenario, this would add an eighth player to the injured players list. The Colorado Avalanche cannot add ANOTHER player to the injury list.
Another recent example of why fighting isn’t always the answer, would be the most recent matchup of the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Roughly thirteen minutes into the third period, Nikita Zadorov laid a monster hit on Florida Panther Jayce Hawryluk. The momentum shifted in favor of the Colorado Avalanche, and less than a minute later Nathan Mackinnon would put the Avalanche up 3-1 with twelve minutes left in the third.
Zadorov knew he would be the target for the Florida Panthers after his hit sent Hawryluk to the locker room, Hawryluk would not return for the remainder of the game. Zadorov would then get into a fight with Florida Panther Dryden Hunt in retaliation to being slashed earlier in the play. Zadorov would be assessed a slashing penalty, fighting penalty and a game misconduct.
The momentum shift that Zadorov created with the massive hit would swing in the other direction after Zadorov got into the retaliation fight. A fire was lit under the Florida Panthers, and they were going to get back in the best way possible, they were going to win. The Colorado Avalanche would then go onto lose a 3-1 lead and fall 4-3 in OT to the Florida Panthers. Was the fight worth it? No, absolutely not.
Fighting is becoming less and less relevant in hockey, enforcers no longer have a place in today’s game, and the days of full team brawls are slowly becoming a thing of the past. The old school fans will say the game has gone “soft”, but the rest of us just see a game that has evolved and become a lot less violent.
The best way to get back at a team is to win, fighting isn’t always the answer. Here’s to a speedy recovery for Pavel Francouz, and hopefully another win against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday!