As defenseman Jack Hillen took a swing at classmate Derek Patrosso at Thursday's captain's practice, I couldn't help but wonder if what Hillen had just told me about "great team chemistry" was null and void.
Part of it is that I grew up in basketball country. If one Tar Heel were to lash out at another like that, Roy Williams would probably have to resign.
Also, as a veteran of female teams, I can say unequivocally that if the same physical manifestation of frustration were to happen, the grudges would never dissolve and the group would quickly become fractured into cliques.
But I guess it's different for men, as I have been learning in my second season of spending every day watching and talking to the Colorado College hockey team.
Thursday's practice had more scuffles than in all of last season's practices combined.
"Way to stay intense," said senior Scott McCulloch, who had to pull apart Hillen and Patrosso, before reminding the Tigers of some basic ground rules. "Make sure, if you're going to fight, that you take off your helmets so we're not breaking hands."
When I asked players about fighting with their teammates, they smiled forgivingly at me and explained what is an obvious concept to them.
"We're just ready to play," said defenseman Nate Prosser, who got chippy with freshman Stephen Schultz during the Tigers' short-sided 3-on-3 game. "That's just us being competitive.... It happens every day in juniors."
Eric Walsky, who is more apt to stand to the side and watch after nursing his right wrist back from a potentially career-ending injury, said fighting is a "good thing."
"It's all subconscious," he explained. "Nothing personal." Walsky added that when a little fighting doesn't happen, those frustrations can boil over in the locker room and destroy team chemistry. So, it's like a safety valve? "Yep," he said.
I'll admit it: my brief tutorial on the subject of intrasquad fighting still left me somewhat flummoxed, especially as the players left the locker room laughing and talking as if they'd spent their practice sharing their feelings or doing team-bonding activities.
But I guess, as they explained to me, that's exactly what they were doing. I think I just had a breakthrough.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about fighting within a team.
Mark your calendars:
CC's 2007-08 TV Schedule
(All Times MT)
Day & Date Opponent Network/Channel Time
Fri., Oct. 19 Univ. of Minnesota FSN Rocky Mountain 7:30 pm
Sat., Oct. 20 Univ. of Minnesota FSN Rocky Mountain 7 pm
Sat., Nov. 3 @ Univ. of North Dakota The CW (KXTU) 6 pm
Fri., Nov. 23 Univ. of Denver CET Network (Comcast) 7:30 pm
Sat., Dec. 1 @ Univ. of Alaska Anchorage The CW (KXTU) 9 pm
Fri., Jan. 4 @ Univ. of Wisconsin Big Ten Network 6 pm
Sat., Jan. 5 @ Univ. of Wisconsin CSTV 6 pm
Sat., Mar. 8 Univ. of Denver CET Network (Comcast) 7 pm
Articles off of the WCHA conference call, held Wednesday morning:
--Shane Frederick of the The Free Press (Mankato) writes about the WCHA's youthfulness.
--Elliott Olshansky of CSTV quotes Scott Owens and George Gwozdecky's takes on the Rockies' late-season surge. Previously, Olshansky says the Tigers are overrated. What do you think?
Four former Tigers made opening-day NHL rosters: Brett Sterling (Atlanta Thrashers), Mark Stuart (Boston Bruins), Curtis McElhinney (Calgary Flames) and Tom Preissing (Los Angeles Kings).
--Will Stuart stick on the Bruins' roster?
--Sterling gets love from readers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Thrashers blog. Also: makes Burnside's watch list and earns a new nickname around Hotlanta.
It looks as though Brandon Straub will start his professional career with the Johnstown (Pa.) Chiefs (ECHL).
And what a lucky guy Matt Zaba is: he will begin with the Charlotte Checkers, an ECHL team in gorgeous North Carolina!
Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald asked Marty Sertich to give advice to Sioux senior Ryan Duncan about how to avoid a Hobey hangover.
Trevor Frischmon gets a shot to play another season in Syracuse (AHL).
Mike Stuart lands offer in Austria, while Peter Sejna's status remains unknown.