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Support for Instigator Penalty drops sharply in NHLPA/HNIC poll

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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Last month, GM Brian Burke of the Toronto Maple Leafs lamented the decline of the enforcer in the NHL, wondering where the notions of accountability and player protection were headed in today's NHL. "The only lament I have on this is the fear that if we don't have guys looking after each other, that the rats will take this game over," said Burke.

One way to exterminate those rats? According to some in the game, it's the abolishment of the Instigator Penalty, the rule passed in 1992-93 that gave five minutes for fighting, two for instigating the fight and a 10 minute misconduct.

According to the new 2011-12 NHLPA/CBC's Hockey Night in Canada, which will be released on Sunday, there's growing sentiment among NHL players to abolish the rule.

When asked, "Should the instigator rule be abolished?", the 257 NHLPA respondents answered:

ABOLISH

There's still majority support for the instigator, according to the poll. However, support has plummeted this last season:

No: 66%
Yes: 33%
Depends: 0.3%
Don't Care: 0.3%

A 13-point drop in support for the instigator is something the NHL should probably, or at least hopefully, take into consideration.

The 2011-12 NHLPA/CBC's Hockey Night in Canada Players Poll results will be revealed on Sunday starting at 11 a.m. on the official site, www.playerspoll.ca. The results of the following three questions won't go up on the site until they are announced in the HNIC Sunday Night Broadcast: Should fighting be abolished, Franchise Player, and Who deserves the next NHL Franchise.

Fans can also take part in the survey online here, with their results compared to those of the pros.

Coming up, the full players poll questionnaire. Play along in the comments!

2011-12 NHLPA/CBC's Hockey Night in Canada PLAYER POLL — for NHLPA members only

TEAM:

Skills

Who has the hardest shot?
Who is the best skater?
Who is the league's fastest skater?
Who is the smartest player?
Who is the toughest player?
Who is the most difficult player to play against?
Which player is the hardest to take the puck from?
Skaters only: Which goalie is the most difficult to score on?
Goalies only: Which player is the most difficult to stop?

Teams & Player opinions

Who is the most underrated player?
Which current player is the best role model?
Which current player would you select to start a franchise?
Who is the cleanest player to play against?
Who is the toughest defenceman to play against?
Who is the toughest forward to play against?
Which team is overrated?
Which team is underrated?
Who is the best referee?

Coaches

Which coach would you most like to play for?
Which coach demands the most of his players?
Which current assistant coach should be the next head coach?

Arenas and teams

Which is your favourite rink to play in?
Which rink has the best ice?
Which rink has the worst ice?
What team would you most like to play on?
Which Canadian city deserves an NHL franchise - Quebec City, Hamilton, 2nd team in Toronto?

On-Ice Topics — (please respond YES or NO)

Should fighting be completely banished?
Should the instigator rule be abolished?

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