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This article was published 16/3/2011 (3396 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Manitoba Junior Hockey League is showing the hockey world how to get tough on unnecessary violence.
Commissioner Kim Davis handed out a total of 86 game suspensions Wednesday to one player and three coaches, following an ugly hit at the end of a playoff game in Swan Valley Saturday night.
With the home team Stampeders trailing the Portage Terriers 4-1 in the dying seconds of the game -- and about to bow out of the playoffs four games to two -- bad boy forward Jesse Enns skated the width of the ice and drove Terriers defenceman Tyler Harland into the glass.
Harland had his back to Enns and was scrumming with several other players along the boards for the puck in the Terriers end when Enns hit him with three seconds left in the game.
The Terriers trainer was called onto the ice. Players from both teams exchanged words but there was no fight -- until after the buzzer sounded and two assistant coaches from both teams started throwing punches at each other while standing in the players' bench.
"We can't and won't tolerate that kind of behaviour," Davis said.
Davis gave Enns, one of the most penalized players during the playoffs, a 40-game suspension that will start at the beginning of the regular season in the fall.
Swan Valley assistant coach Dallas Anderson and Terriers assistant Jim Tkachyk each received a 22-game suspension and a $1,500 fine. Stampeders head coach Dwayne Kirkup was given a two-game suspension and a $1,000 fine for receiving a gross misconduct penalty and not having proper control of the players on the bench.
The suspension to Tkachyk begins immediately, meaning he won't be with the Terriers as they continue in the playoffs.
The suspensions to Anderson and Kirkup begin with the start of the regular season in the fall.
Brian Sarna, past president of Hockey Manitoba, said the suspensions might be considered unduly harsh but added some players do not understand unnecessary violence has no place in the sport.
"At some point, a line has to be taken and some real expectations set," Sarna said.
"Hockey games are won by scoring goals and if you're trying to deliberately injure someone, then you don't belong in the game anymore."
While the hockey world has been consumed this year with concussions to players and how to prevent them, Davis said the MJHL took a tough approach to unnecessary violence, targeting checks from behind, checks to the head and fighting. He said the suspensions he handed out this week are just a continuation of that policy.
"We're quite a bit further ahead of the NHL on these issues," Davis said. "We're targeting the people responsible -- the players and coaches -- in the form of suspensions and financial sanctions."
Davis said the fight between the two coaches is the first in his nine years as commissioner and probably a first for the league.
Davis said Enns earned the 40-game suspension because of when and how the hit happened.
"The hit happened with just seconds left in the game; it had no meaning to the play at the time or the score of the game," Davis said. "It was a hit from behind with a great degree of force and at a high rate of speed.
"It was totally out of the realm of what we expect."
A spokesman for the Harland family said Harland does not appear to have suffered any major injuries other than some muscle soreness. They said he's not showing any signs of suffering from a concussion.
Davis described Enns as a heavily penalized player during the last two seasons.
Enns played in five of the Stampeders' six playoff games against the Terriers, scoring no goals or assists and piling up 19 minutes in penalties. Enns' penalty time amounted to 22 per cent of the Stampeders' 85 penalty minutes in the six-game series.
Only one other player in the MJHL playoffs has more time in the penalty box than Enns -- the OCN Blizzard's Denis Restoule, who piled up 22 minutes in five games but he's also the Blizzard's second-leading point-getter, with five goals and three assists. Harland drew four minutes in penalties in the six games he played against the Stampeders, without any points.
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