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Stojanov adds punch to camp
By BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun, Thursday, 17 September, 1998 First, Alex Stojanov lost his teeth. Then, he lost his temper. For the first time in three years -- and much to the chagrin of coach Jacques Martin -- the Senators had a fight in training camp yesterday when an enraged Stojanov punched the stuffing out of rookie Steve MacKinnon. Upset at being hit in the back and taking a stick in the face that knocked out two teeth, Stojanov left the ice with a pool of blood around his mouth while a search for the lost molars ensued in the corner. "You (bleepin') idiot," Stojanov yelled at MacKinnon as he headed down the runway towards the Ottawa dressing room at the Corel Centre midway through the scrimmage. Not since former coach Rick Bowness -- who never did mind a good fight -- ran training camp at the Kanata Recreation Complex three years ago has been there been a tussle in the happy-go-lucky Senators training camp. Tired of watching players beat each other up during camp, Martin, 45, an obvious pacifist, banned fighting in 1996. "I just don't think there's a need for it," said Martin. "You know that guys can fight. They don't have to do it here. There's going to be plenty of opportunity for that during the exhibition games and in the regular season." While camp just doesn't seem the same with tough guys Dennis Vial and Denny Lambert gone, there are still plenty of penalty minutes among the 55 players looking for work. Gritty winger Phil Crowe, the odds-on-favourite to win Lambert's job after his 160 penalty minutes last season with the IHL's Detroit Vipers, is one of the legitimate toughs in camp. While he'll drop his gloves at any minute, Crowe swears he doesn't have a problem with Martin's miserable ban on fighting, which has made the scrimmages seem somewhat boring. "It would be ridiculous to fight your own guys anyway," said Crowe, attending his third camp. "You don't want to fight a guy and then have to sit at the supper table with him. "The thing is, the coaches want to see you do other things. They don't want to see you out there beating up on your teammate. "All of us here come with a reputation and they know that we can fight if we have to fight. This way, you have to find other ways to send your message. If a guy does something I don't like, he might get a punch in the head." Still, some players find the rule restrictive. Vial and Lambert were never big fans, but respected Martin's wishes. Of course, they had nothing to prove, and neither does Crowe. What about a guy like Andy Bezeau? At 5-foot-9, 185 lbs., he is not an imposing figure and is on a free-agent tryout. Last season with the Vipers, he had 309 penalty minutes. They weren't all for hooking and holding. "Bezeau's a bit of nut," said Detroit defenceman Brad Shaw of his teammate. "He likes to stir things up out there. He won't back down from anybody." Well Brad, even Bezeau has bought into Martin's rule. "If I'm going to make this team it's going to be because of my ability to deliver the big hit on the fourth line. I'm not going to make it on my ability to fight," said Bezeau, a Saint John native. "I'm on the small side. Everybody has a role to play. Most of my fights are because guys don't like getting hit." Oh, well. Looks like Stojanov's battle is going to be the only fight in camp. Yet for a fleeting moment, there was excitement on the ice yesterday. Thirteen punches thrown by Stojanov on "some college kid" who probably deserved it for carrying his stick too high.