It’s sounding like there will be a little more bite at the Halifax Mooseheads’ training camp in August.
“We’re going back to five-on-five hockey with whatever goes,” said Mooseheads head coach and general manager Cam Russell. “You want to drop the gloves and fight? Go ahead. If players are tough guys, fighters, we’ll allow them to do what they do in camp so we can assess their ability, too.”
An unofficial count reveals there has only been one punch-up at training camp in the past five years. Prior to that, one fight would have made for a quiet 20-minute period.
Former GM Marcel Patenaude chopped intra-squad games from the schedule completely in 2004 and 2005, saying at the time he didn’t believe in them. They were brought back in 2006 in three-on-three format, and there have been friendly four-on-four and five-on-five scrimmages the past three seasons.
Daily practices have been a staple at training camp, but Russell plans to wipe them off the slate completely. He wants a competitive, hard-working team, and plans to properly evaluate those traits before making any cuts.
“It’s going to be just scrimmages so we have a better chance to identify our players,” said Russell, who recorded 872 penalty minutes in 396 career NHL games in the 1990s. “Lots of guys can look good in a practice, but you put them in a game situation and you see what they’re all about.”
The Mooseheads were third in the QMJHL last season with 44 fighting majors, according to hockeyfights.com. But new, strict rules brought in last summer have made scraps rare, down to 618 last season from 1,133 in 2007-08.