In an exclusive interview with former NHL goaltender Grant Fuhr, the Hall of Famer and recent star of the new documentary "Making Coco: The Grant Fuhr Story" urged that continued missed calls by NHL officials may require the need to eliminate the instigator penalty.
In speaking with Fuhr, the five-time Stanely Cup Champion and one of the NHL's 100 best players in history answered questions that ranged from his health after having a knee replaced, the release of his film to the Edmonton Oilers goaltending woes. Among the most interesting parts of the discussion was his take on, what he called, "interesting calls" by NHL officials.
Coming into the conversation first from a goaltender's perspective, Fuhr said he's had a chance to watch a lot of hockey while he recoups from his knee surgery and he's shocked to see how many "interesting" calls were being made. "Just in the last week, on the goalie side of it, he detailed a call in Calgary, an overtime goal that was missed in Edmonton, and another goalie call the night before that, which was kind of ridiculous and blatantly interesting. "Watching the game in general, you see some strange calls and wonder what's going on," he said.
When asked if he thought the NHL should be concerned about all the missed calls or if things would straighten themselves out, Fuhr explained, "I think what the NHL is doing is making a case to have that one player back to protect your stars." He used Ryan Reeves out of the Golden Knights organization as an example, stating that having that protector helps the stars because when Reeves was in Pittsburgh, the opponents left Sidney Crosby alone. Now that Reeves is gone, Crosby is a target again.
Fuhr then said, "that's where I think when they put the instigator penalty in, they took that element away a little bit and made it more dangerous for the players." He said when the instigator rule didn't exist, if cheap shots or liberties were taken, enforcers could whisper something to the other team or the best player on the other team and put a stop to any further dirty plays.
What This Means
Is Fuhr onto something? In just the last few days, Ryan Reeves was given a penalty for a hit on Tom Wilson, who himself, was the subject of more speculation after delivering a dirty hit to New Jersey's Brett Seney after Wilson had just come off a suspension. If the instigator penalty were gone, would these types of hits be gone from the game since a protector would go after that player who delivered the hit or the stars on another team?