Updated Thu. Jun. 16 2005 8:23 AM ET

Hockey fight

Controversial hockey brawl tourney to go ahead

CTV.ca News Staff

Organizers of the first Battle of the Hockey Enforcers, which will put 12 players on the ice simply to slug it out, say they will move the event to Prince George, B.C. after legal
wrangling halted plans in Winnipeg.

Promoter Darryl Wolski told reporters Wednesday that the unique hockey-fighting battle will now take place in Prince George, B.C., on Aug. 27, despite warnings that the event may be illegal.

"We honestly believe this is the beginning of a new spectacle," Wolski said during a Toronto news conference.

The event will see 16 former NHL, semi-pro, university and junior hockey "tough guys" suit up and then pair off at centre ice for a series of short brawls.

Judges will award points based on such things as number of punches thrown and landed, showmanship and crowd response.

Winners will be awarded cash, though the amounts haven't been revealed.

"It'll be hockey fights without a hockey game," explained Wolski. "And our guys won't have to sit in a penalty box for five minutes.

"The puck drops and away they go for 60 seconds."

Organizers had hoped to host the tournament at the Winnipeg Arena on Aug. 20-21 under the name "Hockey Gladiators." But those plans were nixed when Winnipeg police exerted "a great deal of pressure" on Winnipeg Enterprises Corp., which oversees the Winnipeg Arena.

There were concerns that the event violates the Criminal Code under Section 83, which prohibits unsanctioned prize fighting. The section also bans the promotion of such events.

"Let's not kid ourselves, this event is controlled violence," John Craighead, who himself is ready to rumble, said at a news conference.

"Will guys get hurt? Yeah, probably a few guys will get hurt. Will they get seriously hurt, I can't perceive that."

Other cities in the U.S. also balked at the idea.

But Wolski says the tournament has been fully cleared by the Prince George Athletic Commission and by the city of Prince George.

So now, a year and a half after Wolski began plans for the events, tickets will finally go on sale June 18 with Ticketmaster. The event will also be available by pay-per-view on a number of cable services.

But with the sting of the Todd Bertuzzi assault still fresh in many people's minds, many hockey fans say this tournament will further damage hockey.

"It's not even close to being hockey," says former NHL player Nick Kypreos. "It's embarrassing to even compare. It's barbaric. It's just... it's cockfighting at its finest."

"This is bad because it celebrates, promotes, glorifies and normalizes hockey violence," adds Prof. Peter Donnelley of the Centre for Sport Policy Studies at the University of Toronto.  



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